A friend who is expecting their first daughter recently asked us if we’d write a book about how to raise good girls. Our first reaction was to laugh that anyone would think we’d know how to do that. We often see our four girls being sassy, fighting with each other, forgetting to do their homework, spending too much time on their devices, and not eating their vegetables but most of that is reserved for home. In reality, they are smart, caring, good girls. They cook, clean, do their laundry, help their sister with homework and only roll their eyes a little bit when asked to do a little more but I’m not sure we can take much credit for them. We work too much, are constantly running from meeting to meeting and were never good about those important parenting skills like reading bedtime stories. The one thing I think we did really well was to give our girls a great village.
It may be cliché to say it takes a village to raise a child, but I honestly don’t know how you raise children without one. Whether you consciously put a village in their lives or not, they will find their village that will influence them. Their friends will make an impact. The parents of their friends will be an impact. Their teachers will make an impact. Your adult friends will make an impact. When we chose Lutheran Schools for our kids, we chose a village that wasn’t perfect but was pretty awesome.
Our girls got:
- Teachers who were strong, Christian role models that showed the girls what it is like to walk daily with Christ.
- Friends who had similar expectations at home. Not everyone’s rules are the same, but going to church after a Saturday night sleepover, leaving Wednesday nights open for church activities and family suppers are more the norm than the exception.
- Examples of strong marriages where God is the center. They see this in their friends’ parents and in our friends. There are certainly examples of marriages that don’t last but our girls have been lucky to see more successful marriages than anything else. They also get to see good, strong Christian men who set the bar high for future boyfriends and husbands.
Our village has given the girls consistency and support no matter if the complaint of the day (they are teenage girls) is over a dress code or a curfew. When the other adults in their lives remind them that rules, whether one of God’s commands, one our ours or one of the schools, are there for their own good it means more than when it comes from us as their parents.
We needed more help than an average family after Anna was born with significant health issues. It was not uncommon for us to decide in less than 20 minutes to pack her up and head for Children’s hospital not knowing if it would be 24 hours or 8 days. We always had a list of people willing to take our other kids in at a moment’s notice, teachers who would give hugs (even in high school) and reassure them with prayer when we couldn’t be with them and people who supported us through the toughest times in our lives with financial gifts, prayers and time. Whether your challenges in life rise to the level of a child who is very sick or just a busy schedule with kids participating in activities in three different towns, there will be times where life is just hard and you’ll need a village. We could never have raised these four girls without the help of our village.