Here we are wrapping up another year of school. My second oldest just graduated from high school. Stephen (AS) will finish ninth grade this week and my daughter, Katie, has completed fifth grade. It is that time of year that lends itself to reevaluation and introspection, to review and goal setting, but mostly to a great big sigh as we have navigated through another year of school with teens.
As I look back over the year it has been a really good year for Stephen. I believe a large part of that is the contribution of the adults who have been involved in his life. When Shannon and I attended Orange Conference last month one of the speakers (I really wish I could remember who it was) talked about inviting other adults to be people of influence in your child’s life. When adults from across the age spectrum invest time and take an interest in your child’s spiritual, emotional, and/or intellectual development they send your child a message that they are important and valuable. In Stephen’s case, his teachers at school have been very encouraging to him and challenged him to do his best. Adults he works with in our church nursery always love working with him because he plays well with the kids and does a good job. He has been involved with Buddy Break (which I have written about in other posts) and has received very positive feedback from the adults involved.
The benefits of having other adults encouraging my son are two-fold. First, as I mentioned, they help him see he is valued by people other than his own family. But, second, it takes some of the burden off of me as a parent in feeling I am the lone ranger singing his praises solo all of the time. My fear is that after a while, he will stop listening and think I only say nice things because I’m his mom and it is my job.
I am so grateful to those who are being people of influence in my son’s life. But, as I said, I’m reflecting and setting some goals here. So, my question to myself (and perhaps to you) would be in whose life should I be a person of influence? Is there a young person who needs me to speak words of kindness, encouragement, and support? Am I watching for and listening to God as He directs me toward opportunities to invest in the lives of young people who are just waiting to know that someone (outside of their family) cares?