What Kids Need: Other Adults

In this series on What Kids Need, I would like to suggest that kids need other adults in their life.  These individuals may be family friends, relatives, community members, volunteers from a civic organization, local church, or other outreach from a trusted source.  These adults serve as a sounding-block for kids and allow them to speak their mind and share things that they are frustrated about with someone that they and the family trust.  For me, when I was a teenager, it was a man to whom I delivered newspapers, mowed his lawn, and his daughter was in school with me.

One day when I was at church in our teen Sunday school class, he became the teacher.  He opened up the course with a bold statement about parents and kids that took me by surprise.  As he looked at me after he said it, it seemed he knew “stuff” that I had no idea he could understand.  He laughed with his rough and wheezy laugh and went on with the class.  At the end, of course, he suggested that if anything he said to run a bell that we should come and see him.  I went immediately to him, and he looked at me and said, “I knew that when I said that to the class, that it hit you right between the eyes.”  Interesting I thought, not sure how he knew that, but was more than willing to talk about it as I had no idea how to even bring it up with anyone.

The confidence that he held with me was mutually shared, and our friendship grew into adulthood and lasted for many years.  I say today that if it wasn’t for him, my growing up would have been much more complicated and would have had many other speed bumps in it.  His honesty, his laugh at just the right times, and his ability to share something briefly in one sentence that graciously applied to me was something that I’d never experienced before nor since.  It was like we were guided together to explore some of the finer complications of family, growing up, and life in general — what a God-given person in my life.  I am a person of faith, and I know that he was sent by God to help me get through some difficult and confusing times.

As parents, encourage your kids to develop a closer relationship with someone with whom you trust and that they can align their confidence.  That person can serve as a catalyst between you as parents and them as a child.  It allows them to confidentially speak what is on their mind and express frustrations with things that they are sure nobody can possibly understand.  I hope that you will consider extending your confidence to someone that can have just such a relationship with your child.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich