Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1996 book “It takes a village to raise a child” popularized this traditional proverb with which I wholeheartedly agree. I have often thought what would I do without our village? As I mentioned in an earlier blog: “A Helping Hand” , parents, especially mothers are at an increased risk of mood disorders and burn out because of the awesome responsibility of 21st century child rearing. There is no more powerful buffer than the love and support of family and friends. Summer, especially presents an opportunity for grandparents and aunts and uncles to lend a hand and make special memories. This value goes way beyond getting a break or saving a few bucks. It warms my heart to see the bonds that are developing between my children and their extended family and I cherish the relationships I have with my nieces and nephew.
Understandably not all families are safe or healthy. Some of you may have had a loved one taken from you at an earlier age. Some relatives may be too far or physically unable to actively lend a hand. Grieve these losses. But take heart in knowing potential villages exist all around us in the form of neighbours, friends, co-workers and formal supports such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or other community and church groups. Often, the biggest barrier to getting help as you raise your family is failing to ask. Whether out of pride, not wanting to burden others or fear of letting your kids go; when we try to do it all ourselves, we run the risk of burning out and depriving our children of important multi-generational connections and future confidants.
“But Nicole, I don’t have any children.”
I invite you to consider the benefits of being part of someone else’s village. Did you know children can expect to wait up to 2 years to be placed with a Big Sister/Big Brother? Family and Children’s Services are always looking for volunteers and foster parents. Do you have a special talent or athletic ability? Why not volunteer to coach a sports team or volunteer at your local school? Opportunities are all around to decrease your isolation and start reaping the benefits of contributing to a child’s world.
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No matter how small, please share the steps you will begin to take or what you are already doing to strengthen your village. We could all learn something life changing.
Nicole July 27/12