by Jamie Bonnema
We’re all familiar with the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” and recognize the truth in it. We need reinforcement outside of our own abilities and availability. We desire for our kids to become good stewards of their talents, persevere in their endeavors, and be securely tethered to their identity in Christ. At any point, all of these things can be threatened, especially when our relationship with our child is strained or we’ve grown tired. We desperately need the strength of the village
Do you have a village? Quite often we have a hard time asking for help, and we get stuck by battling solo. We get overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. In light of these struggles, I’m going to make step one a bit easier. Here are some ideas that will help build and strengthen your village:
- Seek out a mentor. Look for someone you admire, who has a great relationship with their kids, and whose kids are older than yours. They’ve already been through the phase you are now in and can offer a lot of wisdom. They don’t have to know that you have “chosen” them to be your mentor—you can learn a lot through natural conversations and observations.
- Find a family in the same place in life as yours. Talking with someone who understands where you are can lighten the load and re-fuel a weary heart. But, don’t just talk. Take some time to get your families together. Letting the kids play together gives adults time to connect. Walking alongside another family strengthens and blesses both families. Do life together!2
- Get a prayer partner. This may make you anxious—I get it! Letting someone else see your hurts, know your struggles, and provide accountability is difficult. But, on the other side of this difficult step is freedom. God reminds us in Matthew 18:20 “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” When we reveal our short-comings, circumstances, and sins to a friend, our prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16). If praying with a friend seems a bit much to consider right now, first try just letting them know what your prayer needs are. This stepping stone can lead to your greatest tool in building your village—a growing prayer partnership that fights for your family, marriage, and kids.
- Plug-in! When we struggle, we tend to step back, withdrawing instead of reaching out. We close up, believing we’re protecting our heart and pride. Soon, we find ourselves isolated, battling a problem bigger than ourselves, and ending up even more discouraged and spent. We back away from the very thing that can help—the strength of others—our village. Instead, have a game night with other families, enjoy a night out with other individuals or couples, or meet someone for coffee. Find a church group, Bible study small group, moms or dads group, or a couples group. Phone a friend. Write an email. Pray. Stay connected! By plugging in, your village connection becomes bigger, greater, stronger!
- Find extra help through online resources. Much is available online, but I’ve listed here just a few resources which cover many topics.
A. Marriage, individual, family, and parenting resources:
B. Media discernment—movies, books, internet safety and more:
C. Find a counselor:
D. Adult and Teen Challenge, Christian-based rehab and recovery:
E. Solid answers to tough theology questions with application to today’s culture:
F. Parenting articles, devotionals, resources, etc:
Building your village does not mean your problems will go away and parenting becomes easy. What is does mean, is that you are more equipped and prepared. Build your village now! Don’t wait until crisis happens. But, if you’re already in crisis, it’s not too late! Keep pressing on—your village is waiting to help.
Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a biotech company, and loves spending time outdoors.