Somewhere in Africa, an old proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Profound truth. No one needs to add further words to the proverb. Parenting is indeed not a one-man task. It needs an interacting active community to raise a child in a happy and safe environment. They are the thriving support system.
In the previous post of the series “Dilemma faced by modern parents,” we expressed a view on Evolution of parenting. How parenting has changed magnanimously from our grandparents to us? The art of raising a child has changed and today’s parent is pondering if they are doing it right. Even before a child is conceived, rounds of judgments do exists. No Sherlock moment here. However, the moment a child comes in scenario the center of the universe shifts. And here the talk is more diverse than what’s-the-gender. Making the parent worried if they are just doing it the right ways or are they qualified to be a good parent. Can you see the thunders of pressure?
We are in a period of time where parents believe they have to do it all, all by themselves and all to perfection. The parents are under immense pressure.
Another strong reason to have a village.
Why do we need a village?
The village is figurative here. The village has grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and more people. Doesn’t this remind you of joint families of India or the vacations when you were surrounded by cousins? A village to raise a child.
Surrounded by people the child discovers other people who love them unparalleled and gets a pack of supporters. A child does have parental support and guidance but the additional volume of love and cheering encourages a child. During tough times like illness, the village takes up parenting job. Including the breastfeeding troubles, baby blues, and postpartum depression phases. There is always someone to listen to a parent’s trouble and give probable solutions. The community plays, care and listen to child tirelessly. When one is worn-out, others take over.
The village makes a strong bond with children giving a sense of wholeness with the community. The child gets exposed to a bigger world, knows about things more than just himself. There is team bonding.
The child understands the dynamics of love, relationship, culture, festivals, traditions, and food palate better. Playdates don’t need meticulous planning and preparations. Every day is a play date.
The case of missing village
In India last century saw the migration of people in several ways for several reasons. People moved from villages to towns and cities hoping a better quality of life. Many moved out of the country seeking opportunities to uplift life. The lifestyle did improve in many cases. The kids got better chances of education. The family received healthcare benefits. People started living the life of a global citizen. All are good until the village we talk about here started to scatter. Nuclear family setups do have pros and cons of their own, well one would say, so do the joint family or the village community. True.
Time saw a change in nuclear setup too. Parents, at times both started working out of the home. There were career desires, job opportunity and in some cases financial need. While things were good in one font as a parent is an individual too, one who has goals and dreams and consistently work on them. Parenting with work pressure does take a toll on a parent’s mental happiness. Before you rebuke the theory, study says 70% of parents are unhappiest in the initial 2 years of parenthood. Their happiness graph drops drastically in the period. The exhausted parents feel loneliness and get detachment feeling.
Parents, who go by the label as working or SAHM or WFH, can’t love every single moment of parenthood. There are highs and lows. And if there is a parent who claims to love every nano-second is parenthood, possibly that’s psychological defense like justifying their choices.
How are those unhappy parent and village related?
For starters, that village would have at least given a hug to the parents. Later sorting them by sharing the load. The support system can boost the well being and morale of parents as well as children.
Though parents today seek help in the form of a nanny, daycare, and cook; the trust remains an issue. They also add another financial load to the family budget.
With an extended family, the threat of child abuse does exist too. Especially when statistics claim that most child abusers are known to the victim. Yet, with awareness and education, we can do prevention too. Like teaching about good touch and bad touch early in life, how to say No, whom to approach in absence of parents. Making the child aware of danger do help. Just like we talk about to avoid the thorny bushes or jumping from heights etc.
The village saves the parents from expectations mismatch. In case you wanted a child, who listens to you, talk calmly and smiles all day, you set your expectations to reach stars without a spaceship. The community hold you from physical worn-out, mental exhaustion, emotional drainage and intellectually challenged. If you are wondering how can adorable kids push parents up the wall, you are always welcome to babysit my toddler. Brush up all your knowledge till date before facing my toddler Penguin and all other kids. These munchkins can start talking about underpants and after 5 minutes they would strongly have opinions on dinosaur fossils. Interested take charge of potty training too. And if you are already a parent, hugs we are doing a brilliant job.
In the nuclear world, the village clearly faded. But what if the village to raise a child can be made again?
How to create a village when it takes a village to raise one
When it was said, it takes a village to raise a child. It included the parents too. Parents learn child-rearing too. At times from their own failures. Other times watching and learning from rest mass. So, why can’t we create one that saves the parents from burnout and gives the child a community too?
Network with neighbors and extended families living in the vicinity or even far. Travel and communicate with them all. Hard stuff but little effort will have a deep impact on lives. Collaborate in school and locality. Extend help to other parents.
The new village allows today’s modern parents to accept venerability, learn to parent together and receive help. Grow together.
Do you have a modern village around you?
This post is a part of the conversation about “Dilemma faced by modern parents in the early years of childhood”.
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