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Expanding Your Child’s Village

You’ve probably heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. As kids get older, they can start to rely more on the relationships with their friends, and less on their parents.

This can be problematic if they believe their friends are the only people they need in their village. Without the benefit of life experiences, friends usually can’t give all the support and advice a young person needs to responsibly navigate to adulthood. Even though, growing up, I had wonderful friends, they didn’t always have the guidance I needed when I shared my sadness and confusion around my parent’s divorce, the lack of relationship with my dad after the divorce and the boy in my class who made fun of me most days.

My mom could see I was struggling and recognized I needed more than she could give me. She realized she needed to expand my village. She started sending me to character development courses, support groups and leadership camps. As a preteen and teen, I wasn’t the least bit interested in going. Getting really angry telling her I didn’t want to go and telling her I didn’t like her got me nowhere. My mom would simply reply, ‘There is no choice. You’re going.’ 

I couldn’t see any benefit in my mom’s decision at the time – all I could see was that her choices were taking away time from me hanging out with my friends. Now, in reflection, I can clearly see that by expanding my village to include mentors, coaches, teachers, new experiences and wisdom taught me to be confident, responsible and resilient. Teaching your child(ren) the importance of learning from different mentors and role models will not only enrich and expand “their village”, it will also help develop their mental and emotional well-being, along with their resilience.

Your child might not thank you for expanding their village, however, one day they may look back as I do now…

“Thank you, Mom. I couldn’t say it when I was younger, but as the adult me, I am truly thankful ‘you made me go!’ I am happy that you didn’t allow my tantrums, frustrations, sadness or anger to stop you from following through with your commitment to expanding my village.” Love Sara

Until next time…

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker and creator of UPower Inc, offering keynotes, presentations and workshops on ‘Emotions Change Choices’ to audiences ages 4 -100. She can be found at sarawestbrook.com or on Instagram @iamsarawestbrook.


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