It takes A Village To Raise A Child - Pros & Cons
Raising An Olympian. The moms, the sisters, the community that made it possible.
In the light of the ever changing values of the society that we all live today, I asked a question recently as to whether people still believe in the old African adage, “It takes a village to raise a child’.
I was somewhat surprised to learn that quite a number of people believe this old adage still holds true. It was also interesting to learn that a great number of the response to the question expressed their skepticism of allowing anyone (family or not) outside of themselves to have any influence in the raising of their child.
What are you views on this very old, but somewhat new and still very much alive subject? We know people today who have benefited from communal rearing. Our current president, President Barack Obama was raised by his mom, grand-parents and no doubt by a lot of other on-hand individuals in the various communities he grew up in. In the YouTube video "Raising An Olympian", we see the story of the moms, the sisters, and the community of athletes, coaches behind the success of the Olympic athlete, Gabrielle Douglas.
I will be sharing each of these responses with you throughout this article with reference to the individuals who left the response (edited) and a link to the response in question. My hope is that this article and the different sides showcased here will help someone to make a decision that’s best for them in raising their child or children.
Yes, It Does Take A Village To Raise A Child
I must say, as hard as it is for me to believe that this adage can still find its place in this society, the truth is, it still does. There are communities of people, largely immigrant communities where raising a child is still a communal issue. In these communities, there is a sense that family is not just the father, mother, and children, but it’s inclusive of the uncles, aunts, in-laws, cousins, clergy, et al. So when I got the following responses;
'I love this saying and definitely believe it rings true even today. I used to nanny for infant twins with a toddler sister, and on particularly tough days when mom, dad, and/or I were frazzled and worn out their mom used to smile and say "It takes a village!" as a way of acknowledging how much harder any of our jobs would be without the other two.
Studies have shown that the more loving adults a child has as a stable presence in their life, the well-adjusted they tend to be throughout life. I think all children would be better off if their parents felt more supported by a community of other people who love and care for them and their children. When it comes to raising children, I think isolation is the enemy!' (Kate Spenser), and,
'Yes, I believe that it takes a village to raise a child. When I was a child, the people in my hometown cared about me and it made all the difference in how I grew up. Nowadays too many people seem to think that we can do it all alone, that we don't need anybody else. It's wrong. The more help with our children the better. It's good to have children have different people in their lives to show them good examples. In this world where traditional families are under attack, the better people helping to show good traditional values are very important.' (mepm2011)
I understand exactly where they’re coming from. You see I too grew up in a culture that embraces child rearing as a communal effort as I’m sure a lot of us did. From the moment a child is born, that child not only has the parents but the entire community of extended families, neighbors, and friends, and teachers to contend with. The child is taught values and respect for all in the community. Any misbehavior from the child is quickly addressed (through the whip or some sort of punishment) by those in the immediate vicinity, and these could be family members, teachers and/or neighbors.
It Took A Village To Raise Gabby Douglas!
- Raising healthy kids. Whose job is it anyway? - National family health | Examiner.com
Both schools and parents ARE the answer. In fact, communities on the whole, and the people and programs that comprise them are the answer. Kids are vulnerable people. They soak in much of what they see adults doing around them.
- Raising Successful Children - NYTimes.com
Children watch us closely. If you want your children to be able to stand up for their values, you have to do the same.
You Don't Need A Village To Raise A Child - The Other View
But in the light of all these are some growing concerns that child rearing is the main responsibility of the parents, and that none but the parents should have a say in how a child should be raised. These concerns are founded in some truth. Let’s face it; our society today is not what it used to be. This truth rings through in these other responses;
“It would be wonderful if this kind of thinking worked in this society but in this time and age,
1. people are too selfish and
2. too many weirdo and child molesters.
Long ago it used to be that way and the saying and theory worked, not anymore. Time Change, people change. And so do villages”. (ojosama)
And that is so true. Even in the culture that I grew up in, a lot has changed. Your neighbors are not really who you think they are. Parents are now very careful entrusting their children to others in their community. There are lots of perverts out there. There’s an increase in witchcraft, and those who profess to be worshipers of Satan. Some of you are probably wondering if I live in the jungle somewhere. No. I live here in the states, and the witchcraft and satan worshiper thing, it's all here.
Just a while ago a neighbor of mine brought my attention to a public website (every city has one). I couldn’t believe how many child molesters live in the same vicinity as I do. Scary, isn’t it. And as in another response, I hear;
‘Be careful what you wish for. There is also the saying, "village idiot". Keep that person away from the child!’ (mrpooper)
It Still Takes A Village To Raise A Child, Minus The 'Village Idiot'
Yes, the village idiot. We all know one or two of those in the community we live in. This is usually the individual whose characters and behaviors are very unpredictable. They are the threats to the society and are detrimental to the community as a whole.
It is our responsibility as parents to keep our kids away fron the 'village idiots' regardless of who they are; uncles, cousins, step-dads, step-moms, and the irresponsible parents, and maybe even grandparents. Remember, coaches, and clergy-men so sometimes fall into the category of the 'village idiots'. Though some of us tend to trust coaches and clergy-men more than we trust our own blood relatives. Beware!
The Government - Uncle Sam
And then there’s the view on the government. The government never crossed my mind when I posed the question, but it seems the government may also be a threat to how we raise our children. I guess it depends on how you look at it. But here’s the response to that effect;
‘when parents are what parents ought to be, one of the biggest challenges for them can be if/when "the village" tries to butt in (as in the case of people who live in the US, have local-government and state-government; people who think they know better about raising children than capable parents do;’ (Lisa HW)
Well, I am all for the government butting-in if parents are doing a lousy job of rearing their children as long as the government can do a better job than the parents and place those children in an environment where they can thrive better.
Did communal child rearing work for you?
It Takes A Village
After reading all of these, it may be easier for one to just say, 'I'll just raise my child by my self'. By all means, do what you deem fit for you. But remember that that child has grandparents, uncles and other extended family members. My point is, grand-parents should never be excluded in the rearing of children. Well, that is my opinion and you don't have to agree. Grandparents have a lot to offer. Their wealth of wisdom is one. They have so much love to give, and a child can never have too much of those.
As mentioned earlier, I am a product of a communal rearing. My grandparents, my uncles, in-laws, aunts, close family friends, pastors, and neighbors; including my teachers all contributed to the person I have become today. And I believe I am stronger, wiser, and better mannered as a result. My generations have more empathy and concern for those around us. Those of my generations and before grew up at a time and age when values are placed not on things but on family, people, and a sense of community.
And though I will be the first to tell you that I benefited from the ‘village’ type of rearing, I will also be the first to say, be careful! When it comes to raising a child in today’s society, let your decision to involve the opinions and contributions of the people around you be determined not only by your trust in their credibility, but also in their faith and values.
Your children are your greatest treasure. They are a gift from heaven. Ultimately, you will answer to God for those children. It is you, not your neighbor, and definitely not the community that should have the greatest impact on your child.