Aug 11, 2011
it takes a village
I am friends with a married couple who have six children. For most of these children’s lives, I was the only baby sitter/caretaker they knew. My friends entrusted me to care for their children. They taught their children to respect me and to listen to me. Over the years, I grew to model my disciplinary choices based on the behavior that these parents were teaching their children. Initially, I was unsure of what to say or how to care for these little ones. I grew up differently than the way they were raising these children. Inevitably, I disagreed with some of their methods or ways, but out of respect, I did what they desired because I knew they were training up their children in the way THEY thought they should go. Not in the way I would have them go. I knew my chance would come one day when I had my own children.
I will always be thankful for those moments of instruction I was able to provide for the kids, in something that they could do in a better way, because talking through things is my method. I would look up and watch their mom watching me and smiling, knowing I was imparting Godly wisdom to her children. It made me so happy to know that someday, this would be me with my children. I would like to imagine that she also thought she was letting me hone my parenting skills on her children.
Some bits of wisdom I took away from my time with this family and others were these:
1. Let other caretakers - family members and friends - in on your “big picture”. If they are to partner with you in your method of Godly upbringing, they will want to know that you don’t want the kids to watch Harry Potter, even though another parent in their circle may have no problem with it. Each parent has a different philosophy on how to raise their children. Each way is right. We want to respect that, but we won’t know unless you tell us.
2. Caretakers will want to impart some of their wisdom to your children. Let them. God is bringing these people into your children’s lives for a reason. Grandma may have a story of sharing that will speak to your little one in a way that is new. This does not detract from your discipline. It could also serve as an instructional tool later on... “Remember how Grandma taught you it is better to share? Well, she was right, wasn’t she?”
3. Keep them in the loop. A few days ago, I got a text message from one of the other kids I used babysit for. It said “Hi. This is Aiden. I miss you.” I haven’t seen the Browns in over a year. I am not a caretaker anymore. I may never be again to these sweet children, but I still have a connection to them and always will. As a parent, you need to understand that, insomuch as you have an intimate bond to the life you brought into this world, a caretaker will have a bond as well. It will not be as strong or the same, but it is still there. It is important to nurture these relationships. As your children become adults they will look back with fondness on the impact these caretakers made in their lives. I recently reconnected with a caretaker from my childhood. I remember very little about my time with her, but I do remember she loved me and invested time with me. It makes me so happy to know someone did that for me. Your children will not remember every person that passes through their life, but they will remember their caretakers.
Keep in mind, too, that you are a caretaker of sorts. This child is not yours ultimately, but a child of the King. You are but the chief of this village… enjoy your reign, and thanks for letting the villagers into your life.