Why Children have a need for their Community

There used to be a saying-“It takes a village to raise children.” I believe that statement has relevance even for today. For those who have children, the realization of molding and shaping someone else’s life can create a multitude of emotions from panic to complete exhaustion. Unfortunately there are no rule books or guide books on the correct way to raise a child and worse yet, when things seem to go terribly awry there is an absolute “no return” policy. Raising a child is a lifetime commitment in one way or another.

Many years ago however, raising children seemed to be much simpler. Everyone seemed to know where their children were and the children knew it. The eyes of the entire village were watching everyone’s children and when things did not seem right the parents were told. Everyone around the child of yesteryear was involved in a child’s life. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, storekeepers, or anyone who came into contact with a child became interested in them and what they did, good and bad.

In today’s world most people are busy working and trying to either get ahead or stay alive period. No one seems to want to get involved with someone else’s child. Some bystanders are afraid parents will resent their interference. Others are just not interested in being involved in any way shape or form. The problem with “the village” ignoring the children within it is that the children suffer.

Children need to know people and the differences we all have. It gives them something to gauge their own thoughts and ideas on. When people around us really carry on meaningful conversations we begin to shape our own way of thinking compared to what they think. Even in the olden days there were many people who had a significant villager that spoke some word of wisdom to guide them in life. Today, people within the village have gotten so far away from everyone else that we fear the children. We fear what they think. We fear what they do and how they behave. Most of our fears could be dispelled if we took the time to invest in a young person’s life. When people understand something about each other there is usually more helping than hurting to happen.

Children have a need to be recognized either good or bad. In a village they are recognized for who they are. I can recall the neighborhood I grew up in and the neighbors were always ready to say hello and wave. Many times my mom would be calling me for dinner and find me at the older lady’s house down the street. In the summer I was eager to help her string beans or just sit on her porch and talk. Our talks were really nothing spectacular, just talks about the birds and flowers. The talks were not that important per se, it was the way she treated me like any other grown-up neighbor. When I was sitting on this older lady’s porch I did not feel like the little kid from down the street. She had a way of making me feel like one of the grown-up ladies had come to help her and that made me feel important in some way.

Children have a need to feel a part of the village or community they live in. Sadly today, many young people wander aimlessly through our streets with no recognition of who they are, what they think or where they are going. If villagers would allow themselves to reach out and talk to the youth among them we may find that many of the young people have solutions to many of the problems we have. Some people would say if the children were that capable of solving our problems they would have enough fortitude to accomplish what needs to be done. Maybe some will, but many will not even attempt trying because they do not feel a connection with the need. People do not work on most problems until they feel threatened by the problem either within their own lives or that of their families. If children were more involved with the village problems would be more personalized and they might feel more inclined to do something constructive to help.

When we sit around talking about how terrible the children of today have become, how little respect they have, how little they care about others and other people’s property, perhaps we can look within ourselves. How has your village helped create an atmosphere that children know the people around them? We still have to teach our children to be safe, but somewhere in the panic of keeping our children safe from strangers we have turned everyone in our village into a would-be monster. In keeping the village from the children we have neglected the children’s needs to be connected to the people in their lives, to those around them. Perhaps, as parents, if we got to know the people within our village or community, we would be less fearful of those around us, including the children.