We don’t have to look far this time of year to observe circles of love surrounding people of all ages at graduation, first communion, and wedding ceremonies.

I’m reminded of a philosophy that permeates my parenting workshops: The greatest gift we can offer our children is an ever-expanding circle that includes extended family, neighbors, teachers, and friends. Layers of support and encouragement from different role models act as safety nets and launching pads that will propel our children far beyond what any one parent can offer.

A good parent, just like a good therapist, imparts wisdom and inspiration designed to outlive them. Sometimes we have to nudge a child out of the nest or a client out of the office, knowing full well that they have what it takes to “figure it out”. Clients have contacted me years after our therapy has ended to tell me I’m part of a symbolic board of directors in their heads they consult in times of conflict and transition.

While this concept was a natural extension of my Italian upbringing, with many mamas in our kitchen, I’ve encountered parents who are reluctant to invite other adults into the fold. Those who didn’t grow up in safe relationships need to see circles of love at work in order to expand theirs. I often refer to a time when our three children were part of our babysitter’s wedding party. My husband and I remained appropriately peripheral while our kids were whisked off in limos and enveloped by another family. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our children is to scooch over and make room for others.

Last year I attended an adult group Bat Mitzvah where the teacher of the class was also the grandmother of a baby girl being “named” at the ceremony. The teacher convinced us that it does take a village to raise a child. She asked that her class surround her granddaughter by continuing to be living examples of grace, knowledge, humor and – most of all – faith.

She recalled the first scene of the movie “Snow White”, when fairy godmothers encircled the princess. She suggested that the women who stood before her had everything necessary to step forward as aunts, role models and, maybe, fairies. The congregation nodded in unison as the group stepped without hesitation into these very big shoes and sparkling slippers.

I was delighted to bear witness to such a complete and visual example of all things beautiful, hopeful, and circular. The scene spoke to one of my guiding mantras: It’s not all up to me. When we invest in an ever-expanding circle of love that surrounds our family, we perpetuate a cycle of life that truly makes the world go ‘round … and round.