Finding Community: Build A Village, Be A Village

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August 5, 2014

We’ve heard it said “It takes a village to raise a child,” but these days, where are we supposed to find a village? Our lives have spread out and turned in at the same time. Parents spend enormous amounts of time picking up, dropping off, and generally transporting. By the time they’re done with that, so much work waits at home and added expectations on kids means the rest of our time passes indoors.

But a conversation with my kids this week got me thinking about how important it is to build a support system, or the proverbial village. For some reason, my son wanted to know what would happen to them if my husband and I died. We talked about Grandma and Grandpa as well as their uncles. My daughter asked, “But who will spoil us?” An important factor for kids! I was able to remind them of our group of friends that would certainly take on spoiling and celebratory duties. My children’s reaction warmed my heart. They both took a moment to think, nodded their heads, and moved on. I loved that they felt security from this knowledge.

My conclusion: It is important to build a village.

A village can give your kids the security of feeling surrounded and supported by affection. They will also experience a different family structure and culture intimately over several years, helping them with a large view of the world. And of course, having help as a parent can only help you!

Go find yourself a group of people who know, understand, and love not only you but your children. Easier said than done, I know. Your first step is to look beyond your immediate worries and see the people around you, the parent from your child’s class, fellow sports families, or even your colleagues that have children. They aren’t all going to be your bosom buddies, but by introducing yourself to new people, at least you have the potential to meet someone you want to add to your village.

My resolution: Be a village.

Just because life in the modern age doesn’t lend itself to building community, doesn’t mean we should isolate ourselves. We need to be the ones reaching out to others, especially parents who are struggling. Smile at that dad with the screaming toddler in the store. Open a door for that mom with a double stroller, a cup of coffee, and a diaper bag. Offer to watch a friend’s kids when he or she feels stressed or exhausted. Help other parents to feel supported rather than judged, accepted rather than outcast.

Life with young kids can be tough but we can make it a bit easier for ourselves and others. If it takes a village to raise a child, let’s get going on building a being that village in our community.

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