Chock-full of truth. Universal. Timeless. A lasting legacy. “It takes a village to raise a child.” It does. It really does. Now so more than ever.
The crushing, shocking, heart-ripping disaster that is the deaths of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team and its staff this month following a bus accident, has further underscored this important, enduring truth.
Community is a cornerstone in parenting.
Community shaped how they became who they were.
It took a small army of people with varying perspectives and experiences — teachers, coaches, mentors, neighbours, classmates, friends, acquaintances, relatives and others — to raise those 15 boys and one girl, the team’s athletic therapist who also perished.
Their parents, undoubtedly, led that community effort to raise each child.
But it takes so much more than a mother and/or father to help an individual grow, develop and prosper.
The concept of community and a village in child-rearing cuts even deeper in this story.
The community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan — smack dab in the centre of Canada’s endless-sky prairie landscape, numbers around 6,000 people.
A modestly tiny community where it seems just about everyone knew everyone.
Face-to-face interactions were the norm and not the exception for people who lived here.
They saw each other and built relationships over time at the hockey rink, other public places, as neighbours, members of the same faith group, co-workers, grocery story acquaintances, etc.
How critically important that community, that village and those relationships have always been and even more so since the events of Friday April 6th.
A PATCHWORK OF PERSPECTIVES
For parents who live in urban areas within bustling cities armed with smartphones and social media networks, and perhaps even a nanny or babysitter — what does your village look like as you work to raise your child?
Do you even have a tribe to turn to?
Or, as is increasingly the case these days, in my opinion, are you so ‘busy’, rushed and stressed that you are more apt to use technology to text your next-door neighbour than walk over and have a conversation with them.
Are you of the belief that ONLY you know best when it comes to your child — along with google, perhaps?
Is surrounding yourself and your child/children with tangible, meaningful relationships within your immediate community important to support you in your role as a parent?
Do you expose your child to different people within your village, from whom they can learn and grow and from whom YOU as their parent can do the same — share experiences, engage in honest conversations, exchange both good and bad real-life stories?
Would any or all of the above help shape your perspective and approach as a parent?
THE EVOLVING VILLAGE
In a world of:
1. Growing and well-documented ‘social isolation’:
Britain named a “Minister of Loneliness” this year — to tackle the ‘epidemic of social isolation’ in the UK, following findings by the Cox commission, which stated: “Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness.” According to an article on this subject in the New York Times, “Government research has found that about 200,000 older people in Britain had not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
2. Widespread access to the most powerful communication tools technology has birthed, in the history of the world:
What is technology and social media’s role in parenting and what should they be?
Consider DVD players in mini vans, iPads in the hands of toddlers, youth hunched over and mesmerized by smartphones, the almost-fanatic voyeurism that ensues through videos, photos, that sometimes vanish as quickly as they are posted, but always leave a message behind.
And then, there is this brazen admission — “Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart” — captured on YouTube.
3. The emergence of the modern family:
The growth and evolution of society has broadened and shifted landing at what is dubbed today’s ‘modern family’ replete with decidedly distinct characteristics including: single parent, double income, divorced, blended, co-parented, etc.
Those of us who grew up with the term ‘nuclear family’ are on the cusp of entering the jurassic era, though the term — which is used to describe two parents (mother and father of opposite genders, who are married with dependent children and living under the same room — was not THAT long ago.
A ‘SELFIE’ WORTH TAKING
Throw all of this into a pot and where do we land?
One question. What does your real-life, physical and tangible community look like and how are you using it to help nurture your growth as a parent and that of your child.
Perhaps turning that mirror to peer inwards may inspire important reflection.
Despite what it may yield, is a parenting selfie not worth taking?
Perhaps it’s the journalist in me, wired and trained to ask questions. To question everything. Analyze. Ponder. Reflect. Then ask more questions.
In no aspect of my life have I ever asked more questions of others and myself, than as a parent. And thank goodness for that. I would not change a thing about that strategy.
Thank you Humboldt for giving all of us food for thought and an example to learn from as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandmothers, grandfathers, relatives, etc.
Raising a child is hard work.
The village, while it may look and feel different today, is still absolutely necessary.
Before, during and after you bring a child into this world.