Why we need a village to raise a child


Guest post by Ellen Fussell

It’s been a while since I have put pen to paper so to speak, so forgive me for being a little rusty. But I want to share my recent realisation that it really does take a village to raise child.

Apparently that statement is attributed to an African proverb, but golly gosh, whoever said it was spot on. I am a little awestruck that obviously the same parenting challenges have been experienced for centuries and likely in a remote African village even before technology and the crazy after school activities that exist in our privileged society were even considered as a possibility.

When you buy a house, do you ever assess the other people living in your street and neighbourhood and decide if you think they will be a good role model or support for your unborn child in years to come? Certainly wasn’t on our list. Instead we wanted proximity to public transport and a flat block. But boy some planets aligned in our solar system when we chose the place we have now called home for 16 years.

As many parents come to realise, as your children grow, so do their problems. It was so much simpler to comfort a two year old after a sharing altercation at the park than it is to help a tweenager deal with social challenges.

It’s beyond ridiculous to think there is no licence or training for this parenting caper! And let’s face it Googling for answers about your children is about has helpful as Googling about a lump or headache before visiting your GP.

So I have come to realise that the answers to our parenting challenges lie within the village. And it’s not always the chief or the medicine man who have the answers you seek.

Rather, the lady over the fence holds a little piece of the puzzle, the school crossing supervisor has another piece, your child’s teacher another, soccer coach another and your friend around the corner another. Grandparents hold a few extra pieces, and even some of the kids in the neighbourhood can help out with a piece here and there.

But you need them all. And when they all work together to build the same picture, you can achieve what seemed – at the outset – impossible.

Please, to all our village, accept this blog post as a token of our gratitude and debt to you for your friendship and never-ending support. And to all of you searching for your dream home, I highly recommend including some preliminary assessment of the potential qualities of your village.

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