Wednesday, 14 September 2011

It takes a village to raise a child

Who is helping you raise your child? I've been considering this lately. We live in a society that worships the autonomous state. We believe that the one who is strongest is the one who can do it all themselves. To ask for help is considered weak. To rely on others means you are not self-sufficient. So when it comes to a mother raising her kids, it's no surprise that the generally mentality is that we all must be the hero-mom whose children are perfect, due to nothing other than our own heroic efforts.

How exhausting that is. And how, well, stupid. (And we don't often use that word in our home.) The old saying that "it takes a village to raise a child" has centuries of truth behind it. If one person alone was trying to raise a child, exerting only one person's influence over that child, the result would be a child raised with a very narrow world-view and a very limited set of abilities, ideas, and capabilities.

Instead, we need to embrace the idea that many people can and should touch our children's lives. This sometimes starts with a teacher at school, which is often the first time when a mother must relinquish some of her control. But the possibilities of influence are endless.

If you get a chance, read this blog post by writer/speaker Shawni Eyre Pothier. She talks about how her parents touch the lives of her children, and all their grandchildren. As a grandma, Lynda Eyre is opening her grandchildren's eyes to the beauty of the earth, sharing an appreciation of art, and imparting some of her homemaking skills. As a grandfather, Richard Eyre is ensuring his grandchildren are learning the importance of spiritual things, learning to trust the Holy Spirit, and imparting wise words of wisdom to help shape their character.

You'd also be surprised how often our kids might gravitate to our own adult friends. Caleb has a soft spot for my friend Kathy, who is a ray of sunlight in everyone's life she touches. Caleb often climbs up on her lap to share something very serious with her, and Kathy listens with an appropriate gravity. Even though Kathy has a daughter Caleb's own age, Caleb will often ask if we can have a playdate with Kathy herself.

Maybe it's a church teacher, a community leader, a friend, a relative, a historical figure, or even a fictional character. Billions of people live on and have passed through this world, and so the possibilities of positive influence are endless. I don't see it as pawning off the responsibility of child-rearing to another; I see it as the opportunity to gift your child with an infinite number of multi-dimensions.

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