Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It takes a village

I believe that every child should have an adult other than their parents to whom they can turn for counsel and example. Kids all need multiple models; it's the only way they can know that a variety of people and behavior and character traits can all still be good. And at times, when they're old enough, they even need someone from whom they can ask advice who won't "turn them in"—somebody they can talk to about issues little or big that they can't discuss with their parents, or even just someone to get a different perspective from. (Yes, obviously, this adult should be someone the parents know and trust.) Such conversation doesn't have to be on subjects as life-changing as alcohol or religion; even the daily roller coaster of emotion or the ethics of childhood friendships can be topics that are too loaded for kids to raise with their parents.

Ask yourself:

  • Who will your kids be able to talk to in these ways? Are you surrounding your children with the kinds of adults you would trust to talk to them in private? If your child, through no fault of your own, cannot talk to you about something as simple as their anger over not getting a TV in their room or something as serious as whether to have sex, whom will they seek out?
  • And are you this person in some child's life—a big brother or big sister, an uncle or auntie, even when you're not related? Are you making yourself appropriately available, open, and honest with other people's kids?


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