It was 1996 when the book It Takes a Village was released. I was 20 years old, about to be pregnant with my first child who (obviously) was about to be born to perfect parents who did not need the assistance of anyone else. Perhaps it’s true that the longer you live the more you realize how much you have to learn. At 20 years old, I was at the height of a full grown belief that I knew it all, not the least of which was how to be the perfect parent.
Perhaps it’s because I was trying to figure out what I really thought of Hillary Clinton, a prominent female public figure, not as a politician, but as a woman, a mother, a professional, that this memory is etched in my mind. I had a strong reaction against the premise of her book. Not only did I NOT want a village to raise my child, I resented the related implication that I couldn’t do it myself.
Fast forward to 2018, with three children aged 19, 16 and 12, at a point in life where I fully acknowledge that I will never know it all, and about parenting especially. Today, I am practically an advocate for the village. I could not agree more that my children have benefited richly from what I affectionately call, “our village people”. Because parenting children is not like investing in property where you have a title and deed, it’s much more like tending to a community garden. I have put in lots of time in the community garden that represents the raising of my own children but they wouldn’t be the fully rounded products of this garden without the labor of many others.
Let me share with you a bit about the village people who are helping raise
Rene: has no biological children of her own but loves all children dearly; she began giving small gifts at Easter, Valentines Day, and other special occasions to 3 little people who would grow to love her like a bonus mom, who sits on the fence that separates peers from adults as she chatters with the girls about boys, periods, and all manner of other things with the excitement of a peer but the wisdom and experience of an adult. She has blocked out her calendar on Wednesdays for many years to have the privilege of being “carpool mom” to the Klein kids one day a week. We have a rich and symbiotically beneficial standing Wednesday plan. Rene is one of my most favorite village people because she knows my kids inside and out and can understand the dynamics of a situation as a result making her a special advisor.
Cindy: another village person dear to my heart. Cindy is a high school Aerobics & Biology teacher by trade. She is in close relationship to my 16-year old daughter. About a year ago, we asked Cindy if she would be a part of our village, choosing her with intention because of her soft yet strong spirit, her demeanor, her values and our daughter’s respect for her. Since then have watched a relationship blossom that has resulted in more purposeful living and leadership characteristics in our daughter.
There are also many village people at a nearby therapeutic equestrian center that provide my daughter an opportunity to discover who she is in relationship with people outside of the family…who teach her who she is in relation to the physically disadvantaged clients that she can help experience the thrill of mounting and directing the massive but gentle creature that is a horse.
The concept of the village is my friend now. The village people are my family and they are helping to raise my children. I could not be more privileged to have them be in the village and because of them my children have the strengths of more than just their parents to influence them in who they are and will be.
And to Hillary Clinton: whether it was you that wrote It Takes a Village or whether you merely edited the work of a Georgetown journalism professor, Barbara Feinman, I would have never have had the emotional reaction to the initial concept and the learning that resulted, if your name wasn’t on the cover. So thank you in either case, I have you to thank for my love of the village.
Special Note About The Benefits of Village People:
1.Allow your teens to be mentored by people who specialize in their areas of interest.
2.Expose your teens to the points of view of other adults (in addition to their teen peers).
3.Broadens your influence.
4.Provides additional positive models.
5.Develops your children in areas where others may have strength that you do not.