Over the last few days, I’ve shared some stories of how my grandfather saw me for who I am and helped me grow into that. In doing so, he helped my parents raise me, and they appreciated that. The simple truth is that all of us who are parents know that we need all the help we can get.
In one sense, our parents have to love us. We are, after all, their children. That love is essential to the well-being of a child, to be sure. But it can also make a huge difference in the life of a child when someone else who doesn’t have to love us takes a healthy interest in us. It is another building block in a child’s self-esteem.
Our parents also have to discipline us. Parents are, after all, responsible for their children in a way that no one else is. This means that we who are parents usually have to “toe the line”, whether we want to or not. While other adults should never undermine this, it is sometimes possible for them to provide a less constricted atmosphere so children can explore who they are a bit more in a larger but still safe context. This is only to a parent’s (and child’s) benefit, and it is the wise parent who recognizes this and encourages it.
My point is that it is not just grandparents who can do this. Is there a young person we can develop a healthy relationship with who might profit it from it?
I am thankful for the relationships my children have with their grandparents, and for the blessing I know their grandparent’s love is to them. But I am also thankful for my brother, who is exceedingly faithful in sharing in their lives in a helpful and positive manner. And I am thankful for the adults who are not family at all; for the relationship that Tom Leary has with Christine, or that Miriam Turner has with Mary, for instance.
My kids are only better for the love these special people have shown them.