When someone praises my daughter, I beam with pride. I have raised her well. I have taken good care of her. I have spent a good amount of time and effort after her. Isn’t it too much of “I” and “me”. Yes, I am her mother and so my daughter’s primary responsibility is mine.
But what about the neighbours who look after her when I have important appointments to keep, the watchmen who stop her from running outside the building gates, the maid who feeds her when I am not around?
I am raising my daughter well, but not without their help. Hence, it will be wrong of me to siphon off all the credit. It is said it takes a village to raise a child. And, it’s true! They are my village, and without them I would be lost.
Today, parents are being overprotective. And in their bid to be independent and mistrust of people, they are losing touch with their village.
Let me tell you about a small incident that happened a few years ago. As I was waiting at the gate to pick my daughter up at her kindergarten, a classmate of my daughter came out. She was holding her shoes in her hand, and then she put one dirty shoe in her mouth. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I tried to take her shoe away from her mouth. The 2-year girl started crying. Just then her mother came running from nowhere, and gave me a nasty look. May be she thought I was bullying her daughter or trying to kidnap her. I don’t know! She picked up her daughter, shoes and all, and left. No explanation was asked, and none given. The little girl’s reaction was expected, but her mother’s was not.
The incident upset me. I admit it. I realized people don’t always take you in the good spirit.
I started asking myself – Was I wrong in helping the child? Should I refrain myself from helping others in the future?
But then an inner voice told me – Will you ignore a child if you see her crying at a mall and all alone? You will not help her just because you burnt your fingers once and might be taken wrongly a second one? Or wouldn’t you raise your voice if you see a child bullying another one?
When I have a beautiful village of mine, shouldn’t I be a part of someone else’s, though they might not want or care for one?
I remember very well when we were young, it was OK to be corrected by parent’s friends, friends’ parents or neighbours. No one minded, and no one’s sentiments got hurt. And no, there were no nasty or suspicious looks. It was a given; you do wrong, you get scolded, even if not from a family member.
Parents can’t be everywhere at all times. But the village is. The village is the community where kids learn, grow and feel safe. It is there to keep a check on your kids, to correct them and protect them so they grow up into good global citizens. It is called community raising.
We talk about how single kids get a short end of the stick. Or how the kids of today suffer from psychological issues or existential crisis. One of the many reasons is because we are losing touch with our village. The kids don’t only have no siblings, but also a very small group of people they can call their own. No wonder they feel left out and feel they belong to nowhere.
Whether we accept or not or appreciate or not, everyone needs a village to raise a child. Thankfully, I have mine, where’s yours?