It takes a village to raise a child

Before I had a child of my own, I’ve always wondered about this phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Why would I want other people to influence my child? I wanted to raise my child with my values. I don’t need a village, I am a parent in the modern world, I have all the information I need at the click of the button, I don’t need old fashioned advice. It would be irrelevant in this day and age.

Once I became a parent, I realized the true meaning of this phrase. The village wasn’t only for my child, it was for the parent, for me. I needed the village to support me, to give me the strength to move forward when I was about to give up, to cheer alongside me.

Raising a child is one of the most important jobs we do in our lives. Parenting is as tough as it is rewarding. It can fill our heart with so much love and joy, and at times, it can also overwhelm us to an extent that we start questioning our competence as a parent. At these times, when we find ourselves drowning in our responsibilities, emotions and exhaustion, we do definitely need our village. We need a shoulder to lean on when it is too much to handle it l by ourselves, ears to listen to us cry, rant and rave, and arms to reassure us that we are not alone, to remind us that we are good enough. We need our village during our happy times as well, to share our joys and excitement, like, when our child took his first step to his first job. Whenever we might want to shout from the rooftops, we need someone to hear us, to cheer us on.

The village offers us a range of support apart from just helping us with our emotions.It helps us in taking care of our children and running our homes thereby offering us the much-needed time to recharge and fill our cups, or even pursue our career. 

Our village is our support system, our safety net. So how could we cultivate this village for ourselves in the modern world?

  • Engage deeply with both family and friends. This way we get the support we need, and our child builds a range of relationships. With grandparents we might not always agree with their style of child care, but we need to remember that spending time with other adults in the family who love them, enriches the lives of our children. Children benefit when they have many different people in their lives who they could turn to- older cousins, aunts and uncles, close family friends. 

  • If possible invest in hired help whether to assist with housework or child care. They form a part of our support system. They make it possible for us to have more free time and be more relaxed with our children.

  • Create a community with a group of likeminded parents. Support each other by taking turns babysitting, listening to each other without judging, basically just being present for one another. 

  • Find an online community. There are many parenting groups that supports its members by providing a platform to ask questions, answer them or just vent. They even have options to do these anonymously!

So, this village could comprise of anybody we could trust our children with, and feel comfortable sharing about our life, our struggles, our successes. As a parent of a young child I am now experiencing the strength derived from having such a village! 

Author: Prasanna Vasanadu is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.