As children grow, they observe and mimic the adults around them. They see what actions adults take, and see what kinds of responses adults get, and base their own behaviour on what they witness. They try things out and see if it “works” to get the kind of response they’re looking for.
Every parent knows all of this - and most parents are dismayed how closely their kids watch them! Rarely do we think, “ah yes, and that’s why I need a village to help raise my kids.”
They need to be able to watch lots of kinds of behaviour, and see lots of kinds of responses. And most importantly, they need to try out their own behaviour on lots of people. In fact, kids don’t just need any random sampling of adults, they need lots of great adults with good, wholesome, pro-social, positive behaviours and attitudes, so they can observe and mimic and turn into good, wholesome, pro-social, positively behaving adults with good attitudes themselves.
Church can be a place where children can find a high-quality source of adults to help them grow into great adults themselves. St. George’s is such a place. Many of the adults at St. George’s raised their own kids in our congregation, and now they’re raising one another’s grandchildren.
Imagine, knowing as a parent that you don’t have to be the only model for your children. Imagine knowing that they have many adults to observe and mimic: adults with many different ways to show loving care for others, and deal with stresses, and overcome challenges, and persevere through hard times, and strive for what is good and truly worthwhile in the world, and apologize and make amends when they do something wrong. Imagine growing up knowing what all these things look like, and having the freedom to try out different ways to see which ones might work for you.
That is what a village offers to its children. That is the difference that raising your children in a great church community can make. And that’s even before we talk about the value of life principles, and virtues like self-giving and generosity, and being raised in a faith that can strengthen their resilience for anything that might come their way.