“It takes a village to raise a child.”
To all the moms, both professional and homemakers: How often do you wonder where your village is? Often, the mothers who I coach ask, “Where is this village? I can’t even get my partner to give a hand?”
The desire to have a helping hand and an expectation of assistance in raising a child keeps parents wondering. Parents are always looking out for someone to babysit in an attempt to try and enjoy some adult playtime together. The limitations that come along with a child feel as if parenthood is more of a burden than a gift. I often ask parents if they felt ready to have a child and what makes it difficult to raise him or her? More often, the answer I get from these parents is that the timing was an issue. Parents do acknowledge there is a lot on their individual plates including their career, bills, self-care time, family time and social time, which are all difficult to manage. And who often gets neglected in the process? The child.
Quite frankly, the truth is that the village that is being sought after does not exist. A helping hand will help you “manage” time, but it will not be a village altogether. However, let me share with you the village that is serving you without being asked for its contribution to your child’s development, thinking processes and growth. What if I told you that the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” means something more than a helping hand.
To begin, let’s look at what the term “village” really means? Google translates, “village” as “a small town, settlement; a community of people smaller than a town.” Now, please think about what makes up your community? What surrounds you and who is present in your life? Who keeps criticizing you or your child? Who gives compliments? I am sure you now have an idea of where I am going with this.
We have more communities on social media than in the real world, and it is a fact. There is a lot that is posted on social platforms. When it comes to your children, you have access to both safe content and unsafe content. The responsibility to be vigilant maintaining the quality of the content a child has access to falls on both parents and children equally. The internet, social media and TV all contribute to your beliefs and aid in forming your child’s views. How many times do you warn your child against something? Or introduce something new to your child because of something you have learned yourself? Yes, ma’am, the media is part of your village. It is contributing heavily to your child’s upbringing. Your child is aware of more information than you probably recognize. You may have parental controls; however, you cannot limit your children’s exposure in conversations with others.
Peer Pressure, Uplifting Friends and Supportive Role Models
Children want to be more eagerly accepted by their peers than their parents. The concept of peer pressure is genuine. Engaging in activities because it is popular, trendy, challenging or accepted sets the stage of fitting in. Otherwise, peers will judge or call out a child for going against the grain. As much as you want your child to be safe, there will be influences working with or against your set parental guidelines. Children, especially in modern times, are more eager to follow trends and fall victim to peer pressure because no one wants to feel that they do not belong.
However, friends are separate from peers. When among their close circle of friends, children tend to be more themselves. The challenge comes when the differentiation of good and bad friends becomes more laborious. Friends are a child’s first influence outside of the home. Their perception matters to the child. Children do not only seek approval from their parents; they seek support from their friends, too. And because of the lack of time parents may have for their children, those children tend to hang onto the influence of friends a little more.
Children look for validation and they often look to their friends for it if they do not adequately receive it at home. They will look for outside sources in order to seek out validation and it can come in the form of developing trust in an adult such as a teacher. I often find parents uncomfortable with the fact that their child reaches out to another adult before them. However, this is a part of the village you are raising your child in, and the one that your child is building for himself or herself.
Support is an important part in protecting your child’s well-being. Parents, relatives, friends, teachers and whoever else has been trusted by the child can be a part of this group. They are the best part of the village as they help build the child up not allowing him or her to fall.
The Structured Environment: Home, School, Community and Worship
Home is the first environment introduced to a child. It is where the child lives and identifies with the family dynamics. The parents’ schedule becomes a valuable asset for the child and their involvement in his or her life. Children do focus on the words said in the house and the conversations they witness. Home is also where the introduction of concepts such as discipline, love and familial roles takes place.
Schools are my favorite part of the village. This is where children experience an abundance of growth, make friends, deal with peers and understand differences between right and wrong. Here, children discover interests and capabilities. This is also where teachers assist parents in recognizing if a child is in need of special arrangements.
Sometimes, the lucky children find amazing teachers who genuinely guide and help them flourish. Other times, it may be a less fortunate circumstance as some children get stuck with a difficult teacher. From Pre-K to PhD, schools are a massive contributor in your child’s upbringing.
Community and worship houses can also be important assets in the “village” because children who belong to a cultural and religious influence helps in identifying themselves. Worship homes can also help the child with spiritual identification giving them a better understanding, in the long run, of who they uniquely are.
As a parent, you want to give your child the best possible. Sometimes to keep your sanity and ensure that you are doing your absolute best, you must put your trust in your village and what it provides for your child. The environment that you are raising your child in, their interaction with social media and those they confide their trust in aside from you is the village that is building your child. I often find parents who will appreciate the help, but the truth is, support becomes part of the village, but it is not the village itself.
Every influence your child comes across may or may not impact them, but the root of this village will always be home. You are a parent right now, but you were a child once. Imagine yourself back when you were your child’s age. What were your challenges? Who were your influences? Who impacted your life? How did your parents give you time?
As your mindful coach, my advice is not to worry about finding your village because you already have it and it is building your child up with all the good, bad, and ugly. Your job is to be present and know your time is valuable in your child’s life. Do the best with what you can. Asking for help is the right call and should be answered by those who are worth your trust. However, your village already exists, so put your mind at ease.
You do not have to worry about finding the village; however, join me for Her Mindful Bliss every 3rd Thursday at 7 pm CT where you will learn how you can be the contributor and part of the village, for your own life and others. You can register here, and I’ll see you then!
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