More than Just Me :: Allowing Other Adults to Influence My Kids (And Why You Should, Too!)

Soon after we had our third child, my husband and I realized that being outnumbered as parents is more than just having more little mouths than you can feed at once or more littles needing to be held than you have arms to hold – we were emotionally outnumbered as well. Since then, we’ve embraced the concept of surrounding our kids with at least five other safe adults – people we know and trust who also love and care for our kids, and who’s intentionality enriches all of our lives.

Our daughter, for example, has her godmother. She has her teacher at school. She has her dance company director. She has her small group leader from church. She has her grandmothers and aunts and cousins. And she has a gaggle of “aunties” – friends of our family who do everything from teach her about Star Wars to drive her to dance class to hang out with her and listen to Taylor Swift. Some of these women live nearby; others live father away. But each of these women bring a unique perspective and have specific influences on my girl, and I’m thankful for them because:

They fill voids where I lack

Her godmother bought her a needlepoint set for her birthday this past year. I don’t sew, or stitch, or whatever, but I’m glad for her to learn. An auntie picks her up from school each Thursday and drives her to dance class. I can’t because I’m at work. Her grandmother teaches her about gardening. I have a black thumb. These women sharing themselves and their time and interests with my daughter

They speak encouragement from outside our home

It is true, I will always be my kids’ biggest cheerleader, and no one on this planet loves them more than their dad and I. But I believe it is also important to hear encouragement and feel love from outside our family unit. So I love that her small group leader from church answers her (many) questions and “But what abouts” as she’s learning more about faith. I love that her teacher at school encourages her love of math and science. I love that these women validate her and cheer her on through their individual relationships with her.

They give her space to be her own person

There are so many ways that my daughter and I are alike, but she is also very much a unique individual. She’s a Swiftie and gets to indulge in all things Tay with her Auntie Em. She explores her goofier side with some friends in our small group from church, who laugh and joke and dance with her. She pushes herself and explores her artistry through dance with her instructor, who can speak her language about how dancing makes her feel in a way I cannot.

While it might seem counterintuitive to allow others such great influence over our kids, the truth is, others have influence whether or not we are aware. From TV to music to social media to the classroom and the field and any other extracurricular activity, there are people outside our immediate families who speak into our kids’ lives every day. Being intentional about whose voice can speak the loudest and most frequently helps us parents stay engaged even when we are on the sidelines of our kids’ lives. Giving kids trusted adults (and it is important to point out that as parents we get to vet these people) to share with and learn from only broadens their horizons and increases their sense of belonging.

Sarah Brichetto
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sarah moved to New Orleans in 2009 after graduating from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) and is proud to call New Orleans home. She is a CPA and the Finance Director at a local real estate development company. Sarah lives in the Freret neighborhood with her husband, Matt, and their three kids: Elizabeth, Paul and Isaac. You can often find them roaming the neighborhood streets, taking streetcar rides, or enjoying one of the many local parks. In her non-existent free time, Sarah loves to try the newest local restaurants, cook, read, and write.

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