Can I ask you a question that is none of my business?” She asked from the corner of the red couch across the living room. She had wrinkly caramel skin and white hair. I smiled at her and laughed silently, “yes ma’am you may.” She wanted to know why my 9 month old had no socks and no shoes on. Still smiling I explained to her that he had kicked one off so when we got into the house we took the other off. She explained how it’s a pet peeve of hers. “This generation is different. I go to the store and it’ll be freezing out and these babies will have no hat and no socks but the parents will be all covered up”. I agreed with her about the generation being different because I’ve made similar observations. Ironically, a few weeks prior to our conversation I had been thinking about the dynamics of family and community today.
In traditional societies people wear their babies, they co-sleep and they breastfeed their babies much longer. There are grandparents, aunts, neighbors, and friends who are involved in one way or another. In our society I feel like mothers especially are expected to do it all. Mothers work full-time outside of the home. They cook, clean, help with homework, and more. I know this may not be everyone’s story but in general this is what occurs. Even in the homes where fathers are just as much involved, not having a village can take a toll on the marriage because there is no room to nurture that relationship. Another sad reality is how difficult it has become to trust people. This world has become so dark and evil is running rampant especially where children are concerned. I am one of many moms who refuses to leave my children with just anyone in order for me to get a break. I do rely on close friends which is not many and family members when they come to visit since we live so far away from each other.
Before starting school my sister and I were cared for by our aunt, great-aunt and grandmother. My grandmother came to the United States from the Dominican Republic just to care for us once my mother became a single mother. My grandmother would also care for our neighbors children. People were able to turn to family, friends and even neighbors for help. Growing up I use to hear “it takes a village to raise a child” all the time. At school, parents and teachers worked together. When I worked at a Preschool I realized how much the reality of a village has changed. I witnessed so many different scenarios and noticed that Nanny’s and Babysitters are now high in demand. Many of our student’s parents would even depend on our teachers to care for their children outside of the school.
I did have the rare privilege of witnessing the village in action recently. A friend of mine who is a mother of three had to go out of the country due to her job. Her husband works out of state during the week and her two oldest are in school while her one year old is in daycare. She was able to lean on her mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, and close friends to help with the children for those seven days. It was refreshing to see how everyone played their part in caring for the children. But I couldn’t help but think how uncommon that probably is in today’s society.
So, what happened to the village? Where did everyone go? I think the answer varies. For the most part our society just isn’t the same. Our values are different and the dynamics of a community has shifted. We have become more self-centered. Families use to be big. Neighbors use to trust each other, rely on each other and hold children accountable when their parents weren’t around. I think the evidence is even in the types of television shows and music that we have now. Part of it could also be the many different “parenting-styles”. For example, people who practice attachment parenting are attempting to do everything on their own. This doesn’t leave room to even welcome a village and eventually causes the parent to burn out. Most importantly, what I really think has caused a shift is the lack of the fear of God. The fear of God is where knowledge begins. To know God is to love God. To love God is to obey His commands which stands on two things: 1) love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. 2)Love your neighbor as yourself.
What do you think happened to the village? I would love to see your comments and thoughts on this. Also, share if your story is different. Do you have a village that you lean on?