“It takes a village to raise a child” is a well-known proverb. It draws us back to the meaning of community and how important it is to get support from others for helping you raise your child. Kids will also benefit from being around different people and learning from other adults.
Community and cooperation used to be the natural answer for people living in small groups, especially in rural settings. In today’s world, we live in highly concentrated cities but seem to rely less on each other. When I had my first baby, I felt like asking for help meant I’m failing at motherhood. This doesn’t have to be the case.
I’ll go through why it takes a village to raise a child and what that means today, including tips for building your own village.
Build Protective Networks
Why does it take a village to raise your child? To start with, we all know parenting can be overwhelming sometimes. Both parents and children can benefit from having a bigger support system than just the immediate family. Your kids will also learn more from interacting with other people.
Today, having a village means building a sense of community around you. The more people you can trust, the better equipped you’ll be to handle any possible problems.
Even in today’s world, you can create your own village by surrounding yourself with other parents and children.
Here are some of the ways you can build your own village to raise a child.
- Teach kids to respect other adults.
- Build friendships.
- Encourage hobbies.
- Volunteer to carpool.
- Help out others.
- Organize a text chain.
- Deal with problems in person.
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Remember that everybody struggles.
Teach Kids to Respect Other Adults
Think about a small village or neighborhood, a couple of hundred years ago. What raising a child meant in that setting was shared work and responsibility. We often think children are better off when there’s only one person guiding them, but other adults can help you with parenting.
You teach your child about social rules, like sharing toys, at home. When they’re at the playground or in preschool, they hear the same instructions from other adults. It helps them understand that those rules are universal, not only applicable when their parents are around.
This is why supporting teachers and other parents is so important. When adults are respectful of each other, it shows children the importance of boundaries. They’ll learn that showing consideration for their peers and other adults is critical in life.
If you have a baby or toddler, join parenting groups or make friends with other parents at the playground. Foment those friendships by organizing a get-together or a play date among a small group of parents.
When you spend time with other families, your child will also have the chance to learn about sharing and social interaction.
With big kids, get to know the parents of their friends and their classmates in person. These kids are the people your child spends most of their time with. Their parents are the ones who will let you know if something important happens.
When you build a trusting relationship with other parents, you’ll feel supported. They’ll let you know if anything you should know is going on. Whether it has to do directly with your children or with your community, you’ll benefit from this enormously.
Hobbies, especially group activities, are great for children. They help with their motor skills and speech development, but they also teach kids about responsibilities and social skills.
When your child is playing a team sport or participating in boy or girl scout groups, they learn about sharing, discipline, and teamwork. They spend time with their peers every time they’re in their hobby, and they learn to respect adults besides just their parents and teachers.
Group activities also foster the sense of working towards a common goal, much like in the villages of the past. Better social skills even lead to improved academic performance in kids.
Volunteer to Carpool
Organize a carpool system to drive kids to school or their activities, to make your own and other parents’ days a bit easier. When you volunteer to drive other kids, you’re giving another busy parent a few more minutes in the morning. And you’ll get a couple of days off from driving them yourself!
Carpooling is also eco-friendly and gives you the chance to observe your kids with their friends. You’ll be more aware of their relationships, and it’ll be easier to spot any problems.
Help Out Others
When you notice another parent being overwhelmed, offer to babysit. It can be during the afternoon to give them time to run errands or to give them a night off for relaxation.
You’ll notice everybody can appreciate a helping hand and some free time from their kids. It’ll also get you started on building a network with another parent, and you’ll likely be able to trust them for help when you need it.
Sleepovers are another great way to give other parents a night off and spend time with your child and their friends. It can be tough to find time for it, but you might soon notice your relationships improving and a sense of community growing around your family.
Organize a Text Chain
Nowadays, it’s even more important to stay connected with other parents at all times. This can start as early as with toddlers, but it’s crucial when your children are in their tween or teen years.
This is the age when your children will begin testing their boundaries and learning to be independent. They’ll start using smartphones and social media, which takes possible problems from the school to your home. When you’re in constant contact with other parents, you’ll learn about any potential issues early on.
Deal With Problems in Person
Parent group chats or email chains can get tough to manage. In those situations, taking the conversation offline is often easier. Seeing people in the real world foments more empathy and can help tone down negativity.
What you can do is promote and organize gatherings where you can meet face to face in a more relaxed setting. If possible, deal with any issues that may arise in person instead of a text.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Your neighbors should also be a part of your village, if possible. Of course, if you live in a big city or a building, you won’t be able to engage with everybody. Still, you can make an effort to get to know people in your neighborhood.
Remember That Everybody Struggles
You know those moments after a long day when you’re forced to go to the supermarket with your child? The last thing you want is for them to have a meltdown in the cereal aisle, but sometimes it happens, and it’s not your fault.
When you see other parents going through this situation, give them a kind word or two. You don’t have to offer parenting advice in these situations; just a smile can go a long way.
The Bottom Line
Parenting is rewarding and great, but sometimes it gets hard. Fomenting the feeling of community around your family helps you get through it. Both your family and the people in the village you build around you will benefit from this protective network.
Another reason why it takes a village to raise a child is that when kids see adults support each other, they’ll learn this as the model to follow. You’ll give your child more tools to manage any issues in their relationships in a healthy way.