We parents are stretched thin. We live far away from family and friends. Our neighbors are strangers. We go into our wooden boxes, turn on the lights, and surround ourselves with technologies connecting us to the outside world.
The idea of one man and one woman, striking it out to raise a family is a new concept. Traditionally and seen in many different cultures, raising a family is a group project. People lived near each other, in multi-generational households and everyone was responsible for raising children and tending the house.
You hear the old African proverb thrown around in the mommy world, “it takes a village to raise a child”. But what does that really mean? Without real meaningful action, our words are useless.
How can we be the village in today's modern world?
Communicate - Listen and talk to one another. I cannot emphasis this enough. This has to go beyond a “how are you?”. After a new mom has a baby, friends and family flock to see the new family member. Often times paying little attention to the care or needs of the new mom. Months go by, and mom starts to feel the loneliness of motherhood. This is when new families need you the most. Not when a new member has arrived, but when the newness wears off and reality sets in.
Eat together - Food bonds people. Prepare a meal together. Organize a neighborhood barbecue. Bring over a frozen casserole. Go out to eat. Order out pizza. Go grocery shopping together. Get coffee. This doesn’t have to be for a new family. This could be a neighbor, co-worker, single friend, senior citizens, childless couple.
Offer Help - We put the focus on people asking for help, which is a hard task for a lot of us. Especially for the supermom who is trying to hold it all together. Instead of waiting for someone to ask, offer help. Anticipate others needs. When help is offered, say "yes". You can't pour from an empty cup. Let's help each other to keep it filled.
We need each other. We are stronger together.
You don’t have to live in a small community to have a village. We are the village. The village starts with us.