Updated: Apr 1
In the beginning of my motherhood journey, I often felt like I was not enough. I constantly worried if my husband and I gave our daughters everything they needed in life. They are our world, and we do everything that we can to make sure they are healthy and thriving. But do we have to do it all alone?
The world places a lot of pressure on moms to be this phenomenal super mom all the time--taking the perfect pictures, making the perfect meals, and being everything to our children at all times. But, let’s face it, even super moms have off days! Once I let go of my desire to “do it all” and “be it all,” I was able to let other people step in to fill the gaps I just couldn’t fill myself, and I’m a better parent for it.
Everyone in a child’s life has a progressively significant impact on who they become in life and their beliefs of the world and everything around them. Our children will pick up our bad habits and adopt our good ones too. They won’t always listen to us because they are people with their own minds. All we can do is give them as much love as we can, and bring positive, loving, and caring people around them to support our efforts of raising compassionate and strong humans.
It takes the whole village to raise a child.
You’ve probably heard this or something similar before – but not typically about parenting. It takes an entire community to raise a child, and it’s as true as it is cliché. Your child will grow up influenced by the world around them: a world you can’t control, a world you only have partial influence over, and one where you do your best to influence the outcome. So what can you do?
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Your children look up to you more than you know, but they rely on others for validation, acceptance, and encouragement as they get older. Here are some people who you can add to your village to support yourself and your children as you both continue to grow:
Children need friends since they help them explore themselves and the world around them. They also help them become more accepting of differences in people. Friends also teach children how to get along with others which is an essential skill for adulthood.
Your friends are also important for your children too. I remember growing up and my mom having the same people, with a few additions here and there, at every graduation, celebration, party, funeral, and event we had. I didn't understand it at the time, but being able to see the love they showed her, and how she reciprocated that love to them, helped me see what real friendship is all about.
Teachers teach children how to be responsible and respectful towards others. This is especially important if the teacher makes an effort to connect with the student on a personal level rather than just treating them as another student who must learn what is being taught in the curriculum. Even if you homeschool your children, you can allow them to learn from others through programs like Outschool can help them understand the world from multiple perspectives.
Coaches teach children discipline, integrity, teamwork, and respect for authority. They learn how to set goals for themselves, both short-term and long-term. Putting your children in sports can give them a whole set of benefits including them creating a village of their own.
Research has shown that grandparent involvement leads to better social skills, academic performance, and well-being for children. Aunts, uncles, and cousins also contribute significantly to a child’s development. Young children often find solace in older cousins because they are easier to talk to than adults. Family members who live far away can stay connected through technology such as Skype or FaceTime.
Your friends, mentors, support groups, and even medical professionals as part of your village who can be there through the good and bad times. Your children should see you interacting with these people to understand what true friendship and support look like in life.
It’s essential to build a diverse and supportive village for your kids, so you know who is influencing your child and what values they are pouring into them. They should also be supportive and understanding of your healthy parenting practices.
On a personal note
The power of the village is something I learned all too well through my experience in the pandemic. My husband and I were hunkered down working from home full time while raising two little impressionable kids. We had no help, no family close by, and no childcare for the girls outside of Netflix, YouTube, and Disney+. It was tough on me physically and mentally, and it quickly became evident that we couldn’t raise our kids alone while having other responsibilities outside of our family.
We decided to hire in-house help and found a fantastic nanny to play with and enrich both girls. Our oldest has built relationships with children on Outschool, at our local trampoline park, and through virtual playdates with families around the country. We are also exploring more playdates for our youngest as things get a little better with the pandemic.
My children also see me as part of different motherhood support groups and love interacting with my therapist through telehealth sessions. I have created a network of supportive friends who celebrate with me, challenge me, support me, and hold me accountable when I need them.
Everyone they encounter has a significant role in how they view the world, and I am grateful that they can see so much positivity around them, just as I did with my mom’s village when I was a child.
There is no right way to raise your children, especially during a global pandemic, but ensuring you have the support of a solid village that you and your family can lean on is a must.
We don't have to be everything to our children at all times nor should we expect ourselves to be! In order to maintain your sanity, make sure that village is one you can trust and that your children can look up to in their lives.