I have written the introduction for this post 10 times. Each time I think of a new thing that I need to explain for you all to understand the heart of what I have to say. I have realized, however, that I do not have to explain every detail of the idea for you to understand it’s core (I think I can thank my days of education for that sort of overthinking; in the limited time of the classroom teachers have to shove as many little tidbits into their learners minds as they can!). Maybe some of the other introductions can get their own post later, but here is the core of what I came to say: The adults in a child’s life are the most significant factor for their long-term success.

Some of you reading just rolled your eyes, I am sure. This seems like a simple idea, the sort that any sane person would agree with. Of course the adults in a child’s life are important. We know of people who were raised by parents who were apathetic and affected their children in negative ways. We have all heard, and likely spouted ourselves, the old adage “It takes a village”. We understand that it takes the support of other people for us to be able to raise our children. I hope you will stick with me, though, as I try to explain that it is more than just the parents who raise their children.

Every adult human is a mosaic created from bits and pieces of all the places they have explored, things they have experienced, and people they have encountered. Every adult that regularly interacts with a child has the opportunity to add to their mosaic; to take a section of their own self and place it in the patchwork that child is building piece by piece. Those people, mostly the adults we interact with as children, are a combination of aunts, uncles, grandparents, older cousins, teachers, church members, friends of parents, parents of friends, coaches… Each of those adults have unique opportunities to influence us as we develop. To invest into us in significant ways. Invest in our knowledge, our self worth, our common sense, our idea of the world.

When we become adults, we cash in those investments. We take all of the things we have learned from those adults and we put them to use in the real world. I know that personally, I could not have survived the transition to adulthood without my mom, my dad (for the time he was here), my Aunt Becky, my Nana, and my honorary mom Joanna. I needed them as physical presences in my life to find success and I was blessed to have such amazing protective factors surrounding me.

As more and more time goes on, however, I am realizing just how much the small investments of others impacted who I am. When I am faced with a problem I am often reminded of an adult, sometimes one I only interacted with a handful of times, who solved something similar and imparted their wisdom on me. Through the curve balls that life throws I am able to consider the unexpected moments I witnessed as a child and how those in charge responded to them. I can recall tidbits of conversation that I have not remembered in decades which give me just the boost I need to overcome the thing in front of me. I am able to, every day, see the returns of those little investments made into me when I wasn’t even old enough to understand the concept.

I write all of this to say that the moms I work with were not invested in. For some, their adults were absent, investing their time into themselves and their problems. Others had adults who did not understand the true power they held over the children they were raising. Even more had one or two adults who invested well, but not the entire village that it takes to properly rear a child. These women, faced with homelessness and pregnancy, do not have a bank of knowledge to withdraw from. Frequently I have the thought “How did you not know that before?” but then I have to remind myself that I had someone to teach me; often I can recall the exact person I learned that lesson from. How are these women supposed to know about things they have never encountered before? Make complex decisions about things they have no concept of?

That’s where we step in. This is the heart behind Mentoring Moms, I think. To break the cycle by disrupting it at its core. Helping moms to surround themselves with a community who will pour into them and their children so they can reach above and beyond where they came from into a world of stability and security. So they can raise families who have full banks of knowledge and can become adults who return that investment to their communities. To replace the cycle of poverty with the cycle of stability. If we can help to do that for just a handful of women each year in our communities, the generational impact could be nearly incomprehensible in scope.