There’s an African proverb that tells us it takes a whole village to raise a child.
I often wonder, though, do we really raise our children as a village? Do we look out for them throughout their lives and protect them – and one another – as a village? When I read the headlines every day, I am reminded that all too often we do not. And I wonder, when did we stop living and acting as a village?
When my Husband and I told my Grandparents that we were pregnant, they were thrilled, of course. One of the things my Grandmother said to me that day – with no malice whatsoever – was “Good luck. I would not want to raise a child today. It’s a whole different world.”
My Grandparents were no lightweights when it came to raising children. They raised their children through the 50s, 60s, 70s, and into the 80s. By the time Zilla arrived, they had already been helping to raise grandchildren and great grandchildren for nearly 40 years besides. They had probably seen just about everything.
I remember thinking, “Holy crap! What have we gotten ourselves into?”
Kids are different today than they were when my Mom and her siblings were kids. They are different than we were as kids. They’re even different than they were a short 10 years ago. But while that is true, it’s not really the kids that makes raising children today so terrifying. It’s the rest of the world.
Decades ago, it really did take a village to raise a child – and the village did its job. Everybody knew everybody else and if your neighbor’s mother told you to straighten up and fly right, it was just as good as hearing it from your own. When you did something stupid, your parents knew about it before you walked in the back door because the other parents called them and told them, not because they wanted to ruin your life, but because they wanted to protect it. They did it because they cared. To me, that’s not nosy or presumptuous. That’s a community raising its children together.
But now? I often wonder if people care about anyone but themselves. I know, I know – that sounds terribly cynical. And I know that there are people do care. I have friends and family who do look out for one another’s kids, who aren’t afraid to speak up when they smell trouble, who aren’t afraid to have an opinion. But as a society? We have become so afraid of being criticized or sued for taking an interest in someone else’s well-being that we have isolated ourselves to the point of destruction.