Does it still take a village?
We’ve been talking about connection – connection with our kids, and our families. What’s the next step? There’s an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Does it still apply? Are we still connected to the village?
There was a time when the village was raising the child; when the children were out and about, doing chores or hanging around and the villagers kept watch over the children. The members of the village were there to support and guide the young, directing them in the proper ways of the world.
So what has happened?
Does it still take a village?
Why have we stopped guiding and supporting the
children within our village (community)?
In many communities, the children have gone inside. The adults have gone inside as well. Even so, there are many situations (online and off) in which adults observe children misbehaving and say nothing.
Why might we say nothing? Perhaps we don’t want to interfere. Perhaps we don’t want to offend another parent. On the other hand, we frequently hear about situations in which children get into disagreements and parents end up fighting with the other parents about whose child was right rather than teaching their children strategies to manage the situation.
Our children are not raised in a vacuum. They are raised in community: schools, organizations, neighbourhoods. They have the privilege of learning from their peers, teachers, friends’ parents, etc. We have an opportunity to model connection – first in the home (community one) and then within the other communities.
We can get involved in the broader communities ourselves, modelling the valuable role of involved bystander; stepping in to support and guide the community’s children when they make poor choices.
How do we do that? Through supportive, respectful, encouraging language:
“Walking feet at the pool please.”
“Thanks for getting your dishes and taking them to the counter.”
“There are young children here, please use appropriate language”
In a recent Globe and Mail article, David Eddie encouraged parents to “Speak up about friends’ kids obnoxious behaviour.” He states,
“The toughest part, for me, when confronted with an obnoxious behaviour, is to remember it’s not the kids fault.” He continues, “The good news is that spoiled kids can be reclaimed…they just need guidance, and you’ll be helping your friends get on that track. You’re doing them a favour.”
Consider your village.
Do you want other parents to let you know when your child is out of line?
Would you be okay with a parent stepping in to get your child out of trouble – stopping a fight, reminding her to put her garbage in the bin?
Do you want to know if your child is posting something inappropriate online?
When do you think it is okay to step in?
Have you taught your child not to be an innocent bystander when bullying is happening?
Have you modeled it?
We encourage you to discern the right level of involvement for your family and to teach it to your kids. Children learn what they live…in the village.