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Creating A Village To Raise Your Child

So what if you don’t have relatives staying nearby?

28/05/2017 11:15 AM IST | Updated 28/05/2017 11:15 AM IST
szefei via Getty Images

There is an old proverb said to have originated somewhere in Africa, "It takes a village to raise a child." There is a lot of truth in this and the sooner we acknowledge it and work towards it, the easier and more meaningful parenting will be.

The "village" in this proverb refers to a network of neighbours, extended family and friends who play a supportive role in raising a community's children and thus contributing to parenting.

Parenting in a nuclear setup requires mammoth organisational skills, time, resources, sacrifices and enough energy to power a whole village in itself.

I remember when we were growing up in the '80s, we were part of a village of our own. This village ensured:

  • We were always someone's pet and in turn always had a favourite aunt/uncle
  • Learnt something from everyone by observing the dynamics of relationships, power, favouritism, unconditional love and other myriad feelings.
  • We were exposed to various cultures, traditions, festivities, cuisines and even professions.
  • There was always someone who had time for us, to listen to us, play with us, care for us, answer our questions.
  • We learnt from real experiences—not only books, and definitely not simulated environments.
  • There was always a home with its doors open, a lady willing to lovingly look over us and feed us along with her own brood.
  • Play dates were not an orchestrated event; they were something we just did every single day.
  • Our mother was assured that we were safely in some other mother's care, giving her a much-needed breather to complete her chores.

Today, many households are nuclear, with a single child, and sometimes with both parents working. It is squarely the responsibility of the two parents to play all the roles required to raise a balanced and happy child! They have to care for the child, feed him, play with him, entertain him, along with carrying out their other household, professional and social duties.

This requires mammoth organisational skills, time, resources, sacrifices and enough energy to power a whole village in itself. Jokes apart, it is actually asking a lot. No wonder tired parents take the help of technology from time to time to keep their children engaged. And to reduce their own risk of burnout.

Today mamas, mausis, buas and the like have been replaced by nannies and drivers. It has made the process of raising a child transactional and fraught with trust issues.

Today mamas, mausis, buas and the like have been replaced by nannies and drivers. It has made the process of raising a child transactional and fraught with trust issues.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a trusted tribe to make this journey of parenthood easier and more meaningful? Imagine this:

  • A friend who is also the bus in-charge who will wipe away your child's tears when he cries on the first day to school.
  • A neighbourhood mother who can receive your child from the bus stop if you are running behind schedule.
  • A friend who can send over dinner just because you don't feel like cooking today.
  • A neighbour who can look after your older child while you take the younger one for vaccination.

With collaboration comes help. Love and friendly, well-meaning advice. It all makes the journey of raising children so much easier and more joyful.

The village has one and only one rule—take what you like but give back equally to the pool with love. So look for or create a tribe near you. Its joys will fill your and your child's life.

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