I know you’ve heard me say before that “it takes a village.” The full saying is “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is true. But, it also takes a village to raise a parent.
Children are raised by their parents, their family, their neighbors, and their teachers. Parents are raised by these people too, plus co-workers, friends, and spouses. Raising a parent is simple, but often difficult for some. Too much advice, criticism, and nagging will degrade and undermine a budding parent. Parents don’t need to hear all the time what they are doing wrong – parenthood is already filled with too many moments of self-doubt. They need to be told what they are doing right. Tell them that every parent makes mistakes. Tell them that they are doing a good job. Tell them that as long as the kids are safe and loved, the rest if gravy.
If you are part of a child’s or a parent’s village – congratulations! You may not realize that you are a part of something truly amazing. You are one link in a chain of many people – some more than others – that will shape these lives and influence their decisions. But, as we know, with great power comes great responsibility. Most of that involves restraining yourself. You may be part of the village, but Mom and Dad are the mayors. Your job is to support them and their domain over the villagers. This means deferring to them and their parenting decisions. It means giving advice only when it is asked for. It means being there without judgment when they need to be pumped back up.
In short, to be the best “villager” that you can be simply be supportive and encouraging…and keep the kids alive. We can all use help with that…