Saturday, December 09, 2006

It Takes A Village....

Earlier today, I was wandering around the Internet reading blogs. One was written by a woman who feels very overwhelmed by the constant supervision of her small children. Even though I do not have children, her feelings were entirely understandable.

It got me thinking about kids. They're wonderful little beings ~ so full of hope and possibility. They are so full of future. They're honest and kind.

Well, until the socialization process starts anyway.

I made the conscious choice to not have children for a variety of reasons. I did not have the resources or extended family it takes to raise a child. Being somewhat of an undernourished and unwatered garden myself, I didn't have the emotional or spiritual inner resources to take on that commitment. It's easy to enjoy other people's children, to help with their children, but raising them on my own was too much.

Around the time I graduated high school and headed off for college, the whole social contract began to shift. People started raising children by themselves because they "wanted one". Men didn't seem to be a very important part of the package. They were viewed as "sperm donors". After all, women could have it all... at the same time.

From that point, men, being pushed out of the picture rather brutally, took that to mean their presence was not needed so they took off when it no longer "felt good". People got divorced because "it didn't feel good anymore." People left their extended families for parts unknown because "it didn't feel good to stay here any more."

I don't think too many people in my generation were really concerned about how their kids felt about anything. It was all about us, all the time. Baby Boomer Disease. Me, me, me, me, me. If It Doesn't Feel Good, I Ain't Gonna Do It And If You Don't Like It, Screw You! If there'd been a way to create a tattoo out of that, many of us would probably have it.

It seems the kids pay for this irresponsible attitude. In my personal opinion, children really do need a large family presence. They need Grandma, Grandpa, uncles, aunts and cousins. It teaches them how to function within a group, how to relate to others and how to have a sense of community. Additionally, it helps the mothers with young children to have a needed respite, a break, from the constant supervision. It's balance.

It would be interesting to hear from mothers about this. I am shooting into the wind here, not being a parent so it's easy for me to deal in generalizations and platitudes. It would be enlightening to hear how mothers and fathers feel about this.

What say you, oh, fountains of wisdom?

Peace to all ~



KC said...

I could write pages about this. You got me so fired up. It DOES take a village. A community of support. There is research behind this- research about brain development and social development in children. Children have to be exposed to a loving community at an early age in order for those brain centers and connections to form properly. It's how we learn to be emotionally and socially appropriate.

My recent talk I gave to the at-risk single mothers was on just this- Cognitive/brain development in children and adults. We are setting the pattern of our children's brains in the first few years...we are changing biology. Parents need to be sensitive to this.

Heather said...

I've always been really glad that my kids have a "village" - lots of extended family and a community that embraces them. I once heard a report on the radio that talked about some research that indicated that if a child has at least 5 adults (other than their parents) who care for him or her, then he/she is almost certain to become a productive, contributing member of society. It makes sense to me.

dmmgmfm said...

My choice of husbands was unfortunate; however I was blessed with an excellent support system. My mother, father, brother, uncles, cousins and neighbors helped to raise my son, who is a very caring, kind, and productive member of society.

I firmly believe that he turned out the way he did because of their love and support.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My first two marriages didn't work, but produced three children whom I raised alone. My family was a scant presence in our lives, and I had a lot of unrewarding jobs over the years so we could live indoors and even eat.

But I raised my own best friends. They are all amazingly kind, generous, and wildly successful young adults, and I cannot imagine my life without them.

I have been truly blessed.

jen said... does take a village. a village i do not have...and is so very hard. daily, it's hard.

it should take a village. but if you don't have one, what can you do?

your very best, i suppose.

Pam said...

I am in complete agreement of all you have said. I raised my kids alone and athough we are very close and did well, there are missing pieces and emotional holes. My grandchildren, on the other hand, have this big, extend family and friends of the family all involved in their lives. They are more grounded, confident, aware and complete.

Jenny said...

I totally agree. Unfortunately we have no family nearby so we have to rely on friends, neighbors, and teachers to help. And sometimes I want to quit because it doesn't feel good but then I remember that for once it's not all about me.

And I think that's a good thing.

Lucia said...

Ah...I came over to your blog because I know that I'll be able to read something good and think clearly here.

I don't have children (by choice also), and am of the mind that a lot of people who have them really didn't realize that had choices. I love children, but don't think everyone should have them.

It's gotta be tough for people to raise kids in a society where many of us move away from our extended families.

Thailand Gal said...

KC, it is truly unfortunate that most people don't realize these simple facts.


Heather, I think it is how kids begin to feel whole.. and accepted.. and the world is a much better place for them as a result. (Of course this depends on a reliable, sane and sober extended community.)


DMM, I took a look at your blog and read some of the entries. It does sound like you have a wonderful son... and I believe your loving community that surrounds him kept him from having the experience the horrors of many others in similar situations.


Susan, I think that's awesome.. and it just shows the extent of your incredible internal resources.


jen,... offlist. Check your email.


Pam, that's the real point. It's not that all children who are raised without a village will have wretched lives.. but from personal experience, I do know there are holes present, holes that should have been filled by a wider community. My parents decided to move to Los Angeles when I was 5-6 yo ~ away from all extended family. It didn't turn out well.

It is one thing to not have a choice.. and yet another to have the choice and make the wrong one.


Jenny... right on! :) As long as you have friends and others to help, your kids will be fine.. as will you.


Lucia, good to see your Carmen Miranda here. :) I agree that some people should not have children. There are dozens of reasons for that. Finances, resources, so on. I chose to not have them because in my belief, children deserve certain things and I could not provide them. During my child-bearing years, I wasn't whole enough to be trusted with a pet ~ let alone a child.

Now.. if I was 35 years younger and already in Thailand, I would be willing to reconsider... :)


Thanks, everyone. :)



Anonymous said...

I think motherhood is full of the same "dirty little secrets" as mental illness (or maybe it's just me). It's so hard when they are little. I have no time for moms who say it's all wonderful, because it's not true.

If I didn't have a husband who is supportive and loving toward me, I'd be around the bend. I could not say that a woman alone should not choose to have a child, but I would hope that she be able to find a support system of some kind. It doesn't need to be family. I belong to a club that many women who have been transplanted to this area join and they make strong, lasting friendships with other women and children.

What's hardest to take is that so many moms are very judgemental. I often wonder if I'm some kind of "wuss," but, as you know, I try to speak the truth, so I complain more openly than some about how stressful it is to be at home all the time with young ones.

I'd love to know whose blog prompted this post. Hopefully we could offer each other some support.