They used to say it took a village to raise a child. Is that still true, or is one maxed-out set of parents all that’s needed? I read that in raising children today, more is required of parents than ever before, yet we have less support than ever before. If that sounds about right, where do we find that village?
It wasn’t until I went to college that I made friends with people in other generations. I spent lots of time with a family who had five young kids and became very close with both the parents and the kids. I also met a couple of ladies in their late 70s who became dear friends of mine. A lot of time in my college years spent with 3-year-olds, 78-year-olds and everything in between changed my perspective, and really, my life.
This family with the five children always had their door open. They invited their kids’ friends, their own friends, college students, and often there were three or four generations under one roof all spending time together. When I first got to town for school, they worked hard to make sure I always felt invited. Then after a while, I just invited myself and my friends, which I think was their goal. They created the culture of an open life and an open door and were consistent with it, so it became self-perpetuating.
They always had people they knew well who were available to watch their kids, and in turn, a lot of college kids got to eat delicious home-cooked meals around the family table. Those college students got to see a healthy family in action and were treated as part of the family, and that family reaped the benefits of having all kinds of people love them and their kids. There was often a non-family member folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, or searching for a 6-year-old’s lost shoe. And it all felt normal. They had created a village.
Building Our Own Village
I love this idea, and my husband and I are taking baby steps toward having this kind of home. We invite people for dinner as often as we can and I have moms over whose kids are grown. This is by no means our ‘village’ yet, but that’s our goal. Starting small is better than not starting, right? Maybe it’s a little intimidating. Maybe it’s a little chaotic. And maybe it’s a lot of work. Or maybe it only feels that way at first.
What do you think? Is it worth it?