All parents have heard they are the most important person in their child's life, the one their kid looks up to for guidance and reassurance. But all parents also know that it takes a village. So who's in your village, and how are your kids benefitting?
There are many different people who can mean something to your daughter, outside of her parents and siblings and close relatives.
A positive role model can help her see just who she can become in the decades to come.
A good friend can last for a lifetime and help shape who we are and who we become. Someone who pushes your child to examine her beliefs and consider other viewpoints can be invaluable. And a positive role model can help her see just who she can become in the decades to come.
Here are five people your daughter will benefit from having in her life, for a variety of different reasons. Think about who these people are in your daughter's life, and about how you can make sure they're around to help guide her as she grows.
A wonderful close friend, someone loyal and with good judgement, is important for us all. "A best friend is there when things go wrong at work, or even when your daughter has a fight with you," says relationship expert April Masini. "That's why you want a best friend who has good judgment and is a good influence."
If your child has trouble developing friendships or is shy, talk to her about how she can approach playmates and hold conversations, and tell her about what your friendships have meant to you in your life.
Chances are good there's a teacher in your past who you still remember, even decades after you were in his or her class. Perhaps this was someone who gave you a new approach to tackling a challenging subject, or helped you through a difficult period in your life, or simply inspired you with their passion for the subjects they taught. Research shows that a great teacher improves student achievement, and the influence on non-academic factors is important but hard to quantify.
"My best friend is very conservative while I'm very liberal," says lifestyle writer Sage Singleton. Having someone in her life who holds viewpoints she isn't always exposed to, or who lives in a different way — for example, has a different religion or lives in a different part of the country or world — can help broaden your daughter's worldview and teach her how to coexist with many different people.
"Because we are polar opposites on a lot of fundamental issues, we've butt heads at times," Singleton says. "However, it's been great because I've learned to understand the other side of issues in addition to learning how to respectfully disagree."
Whether or not your child has a female parent who works outside the home, a woman who is succeeding in her chosen career is a powerful influence and mentor for your daughter. After all, the odds are that she will work outside the home herself one day; in 2014, 69 per cent of couple families with at least one child had two income earners, according to Statistics Canada. And if that person works in a field that your child is interested in, they can also be a model for how their future in that field could look.
Singleton grew up in a conservative religious environment, she says, and the women in her life were mostly mothers who did not work outside the home. But she did have an aunt who didn't have children and considered herself a feminist, who proved to be an important influence.
"She was the first example to me that a woman doesn't have to be a mom to have a fulfilling life," she says. "I've always looked up to my aunt because she taught me I can be anyone and do anything. It doesn't matter that I'm a female because I can become anything I want in this life."