It Takes A Village
Updated: Jan 3
Modern parenting is tough.
Granted, parents today face very different challenges to what our ancestors endured; but the challenges today are still very relevant and very real.
In generations past, parents were primarily concerned with keeping their children fed, healthy and alive – today, it’s also about keeping them engaged and entertained.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage; ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
There’s some real fundamental truth embedded in that.
So often I encounter parents, particularly mothers that can’t stand the guilt of leaving their children whilst they go to work.
They have somehow convinced themselves that they are bad parents.
But what these parent’s don’t realise, is that raising children in isolation is not natural. Villages were consciously designed to bring communities together, not to keep them apart.
The family was not just the nucleus, but extended to aunties, uncles, grandparents and cousins, all living side by side.
Keeping the children healthy and alive, whilst instilling some underlying sense of shared values and responsibility, was enough.
Now it’s not.
Now we also have to give them that competitive edge, lest they be devoured by the world or somehow be deemed failures.
Which also goes to the heart of how we now measure success.
Where we once evolved in tribes that ensured there were always several pairs of eyes watching the children and several pairs of hands helping
Now we curse the effort it takes to maintain any kind of meaningful relationships.
Traditionally, it was all just part of communal life, hours of engagement, entertainment and all the support you ever needed, literally at your doorstop.
These were organic interactions, a natural part of daily life.
Today, particularly in the modern westernised countries, it would take you 2 hours just to get out the door, another 20 minutes to pack the car and if you’re lucky only another 30 mins before you reach your destination.
The children play for an hour or two, before it’s nap time, food time or some other time and back you go.
Time lost, life lost, the opportunity for meaningful engagement lost.
We now live in a time where the rates of urbanisation have never been so high.
Where you are not only able to be geographically mobile, but you believe (and are made to feel) that you need to be if you want to earn enough to maintain a certain standard of living.
Splitting families and communities apart in the process.
But know this, for each decision you make, you’re deciding against something else – so it will always ultimately come down to what you value most.
So let’s finish by making something clear.
You’re not a bad parent; you’re just living at a time and in a circumstance that works contrary to what nature intended,
Both for you, in getting the real tangible daily support that you need
And for your children, in getting the interaction and play they need.
Not just as a treat once a week, but as the essence of how they spend each day.
It does take a village to raise a child, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
In the absence of cultivating the reminiscence of the traditional village life, you’re doing the best you can, and working against all the odds in doing so.