baby-165067_1280There’s an old adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” In today’s world, a child is lucky enough if he or she is being raised in an intact family, with both a mother and a father, in a loving, attentive environment. A child who attracts the interest of the “village” is very fortunate, indeed!

Who is your child’s village? Perhaps it is an elderly neighbor who enjoys reading to your preschooler. Maybe it is Uncle, who takes a late night feeding shift. Is it Grandma who splurges at Toys R Us for her little angel? Or maybe it is Auntie, who is the star of pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo.

Whoever the “village” is for you, every mother and father can benefit from the help of outsiders sometimes. Outsiders have more energy (after all, they haven’t been up all night with a howling baby and cranky toddler!), a fresh perspective (now why didn’t I think of that?) and, sometimes, more resources (think $$$) than Mom and Dad have at any given time.

The village is also an emotional bulwark for Mom and Dad. Child-raising is tedious, stressful, exhausting. It takes a village to be there for the parents, to show support and encouragement when the going gets rough. The village is there to provide words of encouragement, or to lend a hand so Mom or Dad can get a much-needed break.

Think about your child, your life. Do you have a village to raise your child? If not, do some brainstorming. Reach out to a friend, a neighbor, another parent in your community. Make time to network with friends and family, and communicate with them about your needs. Let them know how much their involvement means to you and your child.

“Alexis really loves it when you read to her, she just can’t get enough of the attention. And I love that I don’t have to worry about her bothering the baby. Can you stop by sometime soon for a few minutes?”

“I noticed you like to sit outside on sunny mornings. Would you mind if my son Jamie and I would join you? We could both use some company, and it would be nice to have another adult take an interest in my child.”

The truth about the village raising a child is that the village itself benefits from the process. Not only does the village experience the joy of giving to others, but it reaps a full harvest as it watches the child grow into a thriving young adult, who, in turn, can become a “village” for others.