Parenting Math (Part 3): Factors of Influence

Every month for six the months leading up to his thirteenth birthday, our son learned something different from a man he admired. From learning to tie a bow tie to go karting to how to be a good date, six different men came alongside us to help guide him into and through his teen years. That was four years ago. Next year, we'll do it all again as he becomes an adult.

 "Two choices. Be a 'clip-on' kind of guy or learn to do the real deal. Translates into life. Justus doing well with the bow tie. Fun night." - Jim Howard

"Two choices. Be a 'clip-on' kind of guy or learn to do the real deal. Translates into life. Justus doing well with the bow tie. Fun night." - Jim Howard

Each activity the guys planned had a spiritual lesson tied to it. They poured into him and he began his teenage years knowing that he had a team of people who were for him and with him. They have engaged him in serving others. They have been his Small Group Leaders and his Camp Counselors.

Jeremy and I are better parents with them. We have been blessed to have other trusted adults walk with us and our kids week by week over the years.   

In math, one times one is always one. One to the power of one remains one. Add the tiniest fraction to that and things begin to change. It's compelling in finances, like compound interest. While there's no clear bottom line in raising the next generation, the yields are even more significant.

The Influence Factor

When smart parents help their kids form mentoring relationships by aligning with other trusted adults, their influence grows exponentially.

Parent Influence⁽ᵀʳᵘˢᵗᵉᵈ ᴬᵈᵘˡᵗˢ⁾ = Exponential Influence on Kids

All parents are good at something. No parent can be good at all the things. We have weaknesses and limitations. Sometimes parents are the ones creating the tension. Like when we have to put on pressure for grades and schoolwork, a simple "check-in" from the parent might feel like a pop quiz to the kid. Yet when a caring Small Group Leader checks in on how school is going, the student might be more encouraged to work hard. Both want to see the student succeed. He benefits from both the accountability and friendship. In fact, aligning the two can actually carry him further than either one alone.

Once someone did it for me

As a kid, my family's church set up mentoring friendships for girls and women. I remember how she'd pick me up to bake cookies together at Christmas, I knew she prayed for me regularly and I always looked forward to getting a birthday card in the mail. All these years later, I still remember feeling loved and significant because of her investment in me.

The idea stuck because as I grew up, I continued to seek out mentors on my own: Mrs. M, Mrs. D, Ruthann, Carol, Marianne, Jim J, Diana, Jim H, Jeanne, and Ann-to name a few.

It's something I still practice today. It's something I hope my kids will pursue.

How do you Widen the Circle?

Whether your family has just grown through birth or adoption and it's time for Child Dedication, you're zipping through the roller coaster teen years or anywhere in between, it's never too late to widen the circle by inviting other trusted adults to help shape your son or daughter!

Who is someone you appreciate in your circle who is pouring into your child? Tell us in the comments!