In my post yesterday, I discussed my rather intense feeling about judgemental other parents. Today, I’m going to sound totally contradictory as I discuss “the village”.
You know the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child“. Everyone’s heard of it. My mother used to say it nonstop.
Since becoming a parent, I’ve thought a lot about that statement, and while it may not seem like it, it does have a correlation to yesterday’s post.
There is no village. Instead of a village, we have all these people watching and voicing “opinions”, but not stepping in. People will always give their opinion before lending a hand. If you say you need a sitter, they’ll advice you on finding a trusting teenager to watch the kids, instead of offering themselves up. Hell, they rarely give out the contact number of this supposed responsible teenager because they don’t actually know one.
Back in the day (and still now, in other “under developed countries), the village watched out for all the kids. They didn’t helicopter, but they watched. They made sure the kids wouldn’t get themselves into serious physical harm or danger, while also keeping a distance and allowing them to be independent in play.
Remember Neighborhood Watch? Block Parents? Ya. That doesn’t happen anymore. I’m sure there was liabilities, of circumstances where someone abused the Block Parent name one time too many (and one time is too many). We’ve been reconditioned to think on the mindset of “don’t get involved”, and you shouldn’t…at least not in the way people do.
When you see a nine year old at the park, without their parents…your first reaction is to judge and the extreme reaction is to call the police. They’ll say things like “I wouldn’t trust anybody, there are too many bad people in the world that would snatch that child up and do God knows what!”
Few people would stick around to watch the kid from afar to ensure that no harmful adults or people approach the child. It’s not the park that’s a dangerzone, it’s not the fact that the child is playing alone. It’s the fact that you don’t know who is malicious or who has cruel intentions.
But instead of being a barrier and letting the kid enjoy being a kid while also watching from a distance to ensure no harm comes to him/her, people think “not my child, not my problem. I’ve reported the child alone at the park to the police – I’ve done my civic duty.”
If someone was at a park with a bunch of kids when you showed up, and said “I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got to go and that kid over there is here without parents. Do you mind keeping an eye on him/her for a bit to make sure nothing bad happens?”, would you be pissed? Irritated that some stranger expects you to watch some other persons kid? Irritated because you have enough on your plate, and adding more responsibility to it just isn’t fair and why can’t the kids parents just parent and woe is you?
It’s okay to admit that, it is. I used to grumble when I got to the park and had to keep an eye on other kids out of obligation and the desire that no harm should ever come to any child while at play, I’ve grumbled because where are their parents? But that was before I realized how hurting we are for that village, that was before I read about the woman arrested for letting her kid play at a park alone while she worked.
Imagine if we all had more help. Imagine if more people kept an eye out on neighbor kids that weren’t young enough to be in daycare but weren’t quite safe completely on their own outside of their home from the creepy, cruel people that could inflict harm?
Imagine if we didn’t condemn other parents for doing the best they could, and instead…helped a little by doing the bare minimum of keeping a watchful eye? Imagine if we stopped judging and started helping? The world we would create for our children would be better, safer, and we would feel better about letting our kids test out their wings.
Everyone is so concerned with what they’d get out of helping someone. Am I getting paid? No? Then why should I? Because it takes a village, and at some point we all need the assitance of a village.