Children need their village too

In the thick of the summer holidays, I felt my plate quite full. It seemed as if my mind was brimming with doing too much, thinking too much, and attending to too many demands. It was then that my five-year old son asked for something. Something else, something more. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember that I snapped. Later, he told me how it made him sad. That's when it hit me.

He was sad, and he didn't have anyone else to turn to. I was all he had then, and only I - who was the cause of the pain - could offer him comfort. The moment blew over quickly, and all was fine with him. But it wasn't with me. I kept thinking about his sense of isolation in that moment. And then I realized something.

Mothers need their village, but let's not forget how important it is for our children's emotional health to having a loving village too.

It is well understood that mothers thrive best in a 'village' environment. Our villages now are not literal, but they offer the same benefits. In earlier times, the whole village would help raise a family. Everyone would do their part. The burden on the mother to do everything would not be so great. Her mental faculties would not be pushed to the limit. There would be grandparents, relatives, and kind neighbours to help with the kids - just by being there.

Naturally, in modern times, we don't have access to that village. We move further away from our families in search of a better life. This is especially true of expats like me.

But it isn't just the mothers who miss out on the good that comes from a village. It's the children too.

We don't often talk about how kids would benefit from the village as they used to, in earlier times. They had innumerable friends to play with, and always someone to look after them, even if from a distance. They felt safe in knowing they could go running to an adult if the need arose, because they knew most of the people where they lived.

Emotionally too, having a grandparent, an uncle, or aunt to rush to in tears could be so comforting. That is what our children miss when they feel isolated from us. They may not even know it, but that feeling is there deep within.

I understand that it is near impossible not to lose your cool, and maintain a Zen-like calm as a parent. But if you think about how you're probably the main source of comfort and care for your child, you might react differently the next time you're upset. And that's what I did.

I thought about how I can't provide him with that circle he can run into any time. We no longer have that 'open door' community where you can just walk in to a neighbour or friend's home without having to mutually schedule it first.

I'm grateful to have a wonderful circle of friends who are there for us, but even with them, it's not like they're instantly available when we want them. Our lives today are very taxing on our time and mental resources. Let's not forget that social media lulls us into thinking we've connected with so many people despite not having stepped out of home, or uttered a single word from our lips. I still believe in the soothing power of having a cup of coffee and laughing with a friend.

We need to stay ahead with the times, though, and this is how our world has evolved. So, how can we give our children the village they need? By developing a close circle of trusted friends with whom we don't have to worry about keeping up appearances. By giving them the freedom to drop in, even if your house is a mess and you haven't made a proper dinner yet. By allowing our children to be 'raised' by others in whom we have placed faith.

When we all begin to do this, our families become part of a community that is more about support, and less about judgement. It is in this kind of community that our children will know the freedom to love everyone without hesitation.

Positive Parenting 9129820050374989639

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Unknown said...

Amen to that, Tarana! Our family is also blessed to have a genuine and loving support group who journeys with us may it be in good times or bad 😉

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous post and so relevant to us as expats. It is for these reasons you have talked about that we head home to OZ for the summer and travel from home to home reconnecting with our 'tribe'.

Unknown said...

I so agree. I have seen positive change in my little one eversince my parents moved to Dubai.

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