It Takes A Village To Raise A Child- Life With Kabir (Namrata Asrani)
An old proverb which originated somewhere in Africa, “It takes a village to raise a child”, is a truth that I have learnt which made me realise meaningful parenting. The “village” here refers to a network of neighbours, extended family and friends who play a supportive role in raising my child and thus contributing to parenting. Today, many households are nuclear, with a single child and sometimes with both parents working. It is squarely the responsibility of the two parents to play all the roles required to raise a balanced and happy child! They have to care, feed, play,entertain the child, along with carrying out their other household, professional and social duties and this requires mammoth organisational skills, time, resources, sacrifices and enough energy to power a whole village in itself.
I remember when I grew up in the ’80s, we were part of a village of our own. This village exposed us to various cultures, traditions, festivities, cuisines and even professions. We had someone who always had time for us, to listen to us, play with us, care for us, answer our questions. We learnt from real experiences & books, and not technology simulated environments .Play dates were not an orchestrated event; they were something we just did every single day. Our mother was assured that we were safely in some other mother’s care, giving her a much-needed breather to complete her chores .All this in the care of mamas ,chachas, mamis, mausis ,buas, dada-dadi & nana-nanis. Today mamas, mausis, buas and the like have been replaced by nannies and drivers. It has made the process of raising a child transactional and fraught with trust issues.
As 21st-century families, we have much to learn, even if we do not have extended family of our own on our doorstep, we can be ‘family’ to others in our community, giving and receiving mutual help and support. Especially when the children are small, get all the help you can! I sought out friends with children of a similar age, and arranged to spend time together. An unintended consequence was that our children benefitted from being part of another family and seeing how things were done differently. The parent and toddler group is a life-line till today(we are 6yrs now). We started being honest with each other: and what a relief to discover that tantrums, sibling rivalry, defiance, whining and foot stamping were normal and we were just paranoid moms who just needed a glass of wine at the end of the manic day!!! We also made friends with those who had children just a little older than ours. They were able to give us the benefit of their experience through some of the ordinary, and also extraordinary, moments of family life – remedies for unexplained rashes and allergies; tips for dealing with a child who wouldn’t eat anything green, or one who accidentally swallowed his tooth; and advice about which school to apply for and how to handle when you don’t get your first choice.
Different people have joined our ‘village’ throughout our journey as parents, and no doubt there will be more to come – extended family, friends, godparents, single people, married people, pensioners and students. Our lives – and the lives of our children – and we hope their lives too – have been the richer for it. The village has one and only one rule—take what you like but give back equally to the pool with love. So look for or create a VILLAGE near you. Its joys will fill your and your child’s life.