They say it takes a village to raise a child but I often find myself speculating how a proverb invented by western society that romanticizes African traditions is even relevant in western society.
Who are the village when your neighbourhood consists of strangers who might only appear to ask if you could bring their bins in next week or report you to local council for trimming a tree without a permit?
Maybe the village is the broader community; people who offer encouragement in a supermarket aisle or pull up a toddler’s behaviour in a busy cafe while parents attend to a crying baby. It could mean family but that’s a village becoming increasingly fractured.
Relationships break down, people are in paid employment longer and for every grandparent that babysits grandchildren there are plenty with the attitude of “I’ve done my time”. So the village might become child care centres with their two year waiting lists, friends and after-school care.
Then there are the children that have special needs or the 10,000 to 21,000 Australians with children under 15 also caring for elderly parents; the “sandwich generation”. I can only imagine that both are incredibly unpredictable and often go un-rewarded. Both financially and by society. That’s a village that can start to get complicated.
So I guess the elusive village exists it might just be difficult to find and is open to interpretation. I believe helping to raise a child means supporting the primary care-giver so they can be a better parent or being there for a child when a parent can’t be. And when I hear someone use the “it takes a village” line it somewhat diminishes that meaning and just feels like a tired cliche.
What’s your interpretation of a “village”? Maybe you found yours and can share with people how you did it?