I’ve just come back to the states after living for 3 years in S. Africa. Such a wonderful experience and I learned many, many things along the way. One thing that the Africans truly believe is that “it takes a community to raise a child.” What exactly does that mean? Maybe we should explore this together…
It was Friday. I was so excited the weekend was coming. To prepare for a relaxing weekend, I decided to clean house. I relax better when my house is clean. By the end of the day, I was so proud of my efforts. I was determined to keep it clean for the whole weekend, even with 2 kids running around. Saturday rolls around. I made some homemade granola. The smell of it filled the house. That’s why my daughter casually walked in and ask for some. “Ok,” I said, “but you must sit at the table and eat it.” She sort of sat at the table. After I left the kitchen and headed to my bedroom, she turned the chair away from the table in order to watch the cartoons on TV. No sooner had I sat down than I heard what was the unmistakable sound of granola hitting the tile. Running to the kitchen, I discovered my assumption was true. Granola and strawberry juice all over the floor. I was frustrated. Why couldn’t she have just eaten at the table like I asked and we could have avoided this whole scenario?
Let’s face it. Parenting is hard and, at times, frustrating. Oh, yes, there are also many joys and rewards, but those come through hard work.
I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day about parenting. She told me about an incident that had happened recently with her kids while she was driving in the car. She became so frustrated that she stopped at another friend’s house just to talk to someone and gain her composure. Again, parenting is hard and it affects us in so many different ways. Emotions can rise out of nowhere and overwhelm us.
So I go back to my question, “Does it take a community to raise a child?” Africans are all about community, about practicing common ownership, as the dictionary definition indicates. It’s really a beautiful thing. Americans as a whole, not so much. We’ve become a society that is so busy and individualistic. Not necessarily bad, but it makes it hard to experience community in this sense.
I don’t think we should try to conform to another culture, but I do think there is something valuable we can learn from this concept. In those moments, when raising our children is hard and frustrating, we need people we can turn to, talk to, and get encouragement from. We need mentors who have walked in the parenting shoes who can give perspective and advice. Unfortunately, we’re not automatic experts once that baby is put into our arms. That sure would be nice!
While I don’t believe it has to take a community to raise a child, I do believe there are so many benefits to surrounding ourselves with a community of friends and family during those parenting years. Not only will it be beneficial to us, as parents, but also to our kids. What do you think about this concept? Does it take a community to raise a child?
For more posts written by me, visit my personal blog, I Believe In Love.