caring adults - building assets for kids

Tru's cheering section laughing

These pictures put such a lump in my throat, seeing all the love & laughter for and from my little guy – with grownups who don’t have to be but want to be part of his life. So much joy. My dad, a pioneer in the field of positive youth development, believed (and spearheaded research to prove) that caring adults – in addition to immediate family – are one of the developmental assets kids need to succeed. “If you’re breathing, you’re on the team,” he often said.

On Sunday, Tru had a whole cheering section at his baseball game. He’s part of a wonderful Miracle League for kids with cognitive or physical challenges. It takes an hour to play two innings and there’s no actual competition. But he thinks hitting the ball off the tee and running the bases is the greatest thing ever. When he crosses home plate and recognizes people he knows and loves in the stands – whom he knows love him – he just lights up. What kid wouldn’t?

Despite cold and rainy weather, he was cheered on by his godparents Michelle and Bill, his beloved “Neen” (Jordan, who was his nanny for his first 3+ years and is still a frequent presence in his life) and her darling beau, Stu. They stood in the rain, whooped it up for him and his teammates, and gave him big hugs whenever he left the field (a common occurrence!) to visit his peeps.

Both Tru and his big brother have had special cheerleaders at almost all of their baseball games this summer. But these caring adults show up for them in other wonderful ways, too and we’re so grateful. When kids grow up feeling safe and supported not just within the walls of their homes but out in the world, it has a lasting impact and boosts their chances of becoming happy and healthy adults down the road. The more caring adults a kid has to count on, the stronger his wings.

So, this is my long way of saying THANK YOU to the earth angels in my kids’ lives – and to all of you who make a point of building relationships with other people’s kiddos. In case you don’t hear it often enough, know that what you do matters. People like you are changing the world, one well-loved kid at a time.

How to find caring adults for your kids

kids with uncle kai

think they like their uncle kai a little bit?

When Brad and I decided to start a family, we envisioned our children having other adults they could trust and feel supported by. So we’ve been pretty intentional about making this a priority. Here are a few ways how:

  • We literally talked to some friends – particularly those with no kids or grown kids – about this desire, asking them to be active cheerleaders for our kiddos if it felt right. Most folks felt honored and welcomed the invitation to play an active role in their lives.
  • When we moved into our current home eight years ago, the selling point was hearing this neighborhood had a Halloween parade and other family-friendly activities – a sign that we’d be moving into a community that cared about kids. It has been a great place for them to grow up, feeling safe and supported. And we try to play our part in that, too. There are often neighbor kids playing in our yard, climbing our trees, grabbing a snack in our kitchen.
  • We try to let those angels in our kids’ lives know how much we and our boys value them. If either kid says something kind or asks about one of their favorite grown-ups, I send that person a text – and it often makes their day.

Got other tips? Got caring adults you want to celebrate – or kids who have stolen your heart? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear your experiences!

 art of choosing beauty : click for details