Many of us are on our parenting journey with the assistance of others in addition to our partner. “It takes a village” resonates with those of us who have extended family, dear friends, or nannies/sitters who help care for our kids. This can be a wonderful asset! There is nothing like people who surrounding our kids with love and support. A network of support can help fuel connection and build resilient children.
This extra support can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to determining appropriate roles and boundaries with others helping care for our kids. Sometimes buttons get pushed or frustrations arise. We know it is important for healthy family members to be in children’s lives but may not like that it takes multiple days to get kids back into sync after spending time with grandparents. Friends may parent differently than we do. Sitters may allow more screen time than is preferred by the parent.
If you have people helping care for your kids, it’s reasonable to expect that they will do things differently than you. Grandparents play a huge role nowadays in helping with children. Carpool lines and waiting rooms are filled with grandparents transporting grandkids to school, appointments, practices, and events. In order to live with the “it takes a village” mindset successfully, two principles are needed: trust and respect.
Do I trust this person with my child? Am I completely comfortable with them taking care of my children? Do they have my child’s best interest in mind? If we don’t fully trust someone with the care of our children it is going to be difficult to leave them with that person or believe the best. When we do trust the person and know they have our children’s best in mind, we can have peace of mind as we are tending to our own responsibilities.
Does the person keeping my child respect my wishes? Do they listen to my family’s values? Do I respect their autonomy when with my child? It is a rocky road when others do not respect the parents’ wishes (within reason). When we respect the person helping with our children and they respect us, we are setup for a successful relationship. I would encourage you to reflect on the amount of respect you are giving and receiving when it comes to childcare to determine what is right for your family.
Finally, communicate. Communication can provide clarity and resolve a host of potential issues. When we have trust, respect, and communication with those who help care for our children, everyone benefits, most importantly, the kids!
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