You’ve probably heard of the idea that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
This is usually shared as a caution for adults, or possibly even teenagers, to think thoughtfully about who we are allowing to speak into our lives.
However, I think this concept applies to kids of all ages. Let me tell you how.
The Five: Why
As parents, we love our kids and are able to provide for their basic physical, mental and emotional needs. But we all have areas of parenting weakness, and our kids are all unique little people of their own. This creates a void of influence that needs to be filled. That’s where the idea of widening your circle, or inviting others into your parenting journey, comes in.
In their book Parenting Beyond your Capacity, Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof, discuss the value of connecting your kids and your family unit to a wider circle so that kids receive “parenting” or influence beyond what any individual parent is capable of. The hope is that by widening the circle, you are allowing your kids to hear truths (ideally the same truths you’ve been sharing with them) from five other trusted adults, thus reinforcing the messages you are trying to teach them.
The Five: Who
It might seem intimidating at first to find five adults who you’d feel comfortable asking to spend intentional time with your kid, but there are opportunities everywhere you look. These five influencers could range from your child’s teacher or coach to your adult siblings to babysitters or nannies to your closest friends to the parents of your kids’ friends. If you’ve selected godparents, this is likely an easy role for them to take on.
The Five: What
So now you know why this matters, and you’ve identified five trustworthy adults who are either already in or who you’d like to invite into your child’s life. What exactly is it that you are asking them to do?
It’s actually pretty simple. You are asking these adults to invest in your kid. (No big deal, right?) But really this is just asking them to walk with, share with, and be available as a trusted adult for your kid to talk to, seek advice from, and have in their corner.
These opportunities for influence could include:
- inviting them to sporting events/recitals/school plays
- sending your kid out for ice cream and a chance to chat
- having these people over for dinner
- Facetime dates if you live in separate states
- asking them to send a birthday card or inviting them to your kid’s birthday party
During the younger years, these interactions will likely be less formal, but building trust and familiarity is an important first step. Over the years, these informal interactions will hopefully build on themselves to a relationship of trust, and you’ll see your bonds form between your kid and their “five.”
Being intentional is one of the most important parenting lessons I’ve learned. Meeting my kids’ physical needs is a most essential aspect of being a parent, but is soon forgotten. What my kids remember are the times I’ve connected with them, listened to them, encouraged them, cheered them on. And it is so important for them to get these intentional moments from my husband and from me. But as we are all raising our kids with the expectation that we will one day send them out into he world, what better gift can we give them, than a wider network of people to love them, cheer for them, save them when they need saving, and teach them when they need teaching?
I hope you’ll consider this concept of widening your circle, and inviting other adults (there is no magic in the number five) into your child’s world. I think you, your child, and these influencers, will all be better for the experience.
You can start small: who would be 1-2 other trusted adults to begin engaging with as potential trusted advisors/mentors/friends to your kid? Invite them over for dinner and start the conversation!