It Takes A Whole Village To Raise A Child (Does It?)

This Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. This communal responsibility in raising children is also seen in the Sukuma (Tanzania) proverb “One knee does not bring up a child” and in the Swahili (East and Central Africa) proverb “One hand does not nurse a child.” Read more here

I have been wanting to write about this for a while now. More than wanting to share my own perspective, I am rather looking to hearing from you parents. It takes a whole village to raise a child. Does that mean that raising a child is difficult and you need all the help you can? Or does that mean that your child will benefit from being raised by many people? And what if they don’t see eye to eye with you? What if they don’t share your parenting convictions? Will it affect your child? Or will your child benefit from different “parenting styles”?

I always try to do what I think is right for my child. It may not be the best in the eyes of others, but it is what is best in my heart. I find it very draining to have to justify my choices. Whether it is family or friends and don’t know better, or just people in general, I still don’t understand why some people seem to think that they have better parenting skills than you do, and that they should share their opinions with you. Just like people who always ask if I am cold when I am wearing a skirt. If I was cold, I would probably not wear one.  And even if  I was, it is my body, my choice. Would you let me borrow your jeans? Probably not. So just keep it to yourself. Thank you. (Sorry for the lousy comparison.)

On the other hand, I have found sharing parenting rewards and challenges with some parents very resourceful. Being a first-time mum away from home, I felt pretty clueless sometimes (look at me using the past tense…Sixtine is only 6 months and I think I know it all already…haha. No. I actually need some help in the feeding solid department. Struggling with what I read, what I know, what I was told, and what I am told…). Feeling connected to other mums in real life, but also virtually has been a life saver. So in that perspective, I totally get the “it takes a village” part.

Now tell me. How do you deal with all that? How does this proverb apply to you? How do you just tell someone that they don’t know what they are saying and to just leave you alone? How did you grow your confidence in the mum/dad department? How do you do it? Please help a first time mum in need who’s refraining herself from telling some people to politely take a hike? I am all ears.