A saying? A Cliché?
A generation ago, for those of us raising a family, it simply existed. The action was as natural as breath. It had no name, didn’t need to be suggested, and was easily the norm. As a teen, being able to ride my bike to town on a Saturday to meet up with friends at the Confectionery, was the meaning of freedom. On my own, no parents! Wrong! From a young age, we were reminded that there were always ‘eyes’ on us. Family friends, church friends, school staff…! While it seemed, I’d lost a bit of my independence, I was also provided with a sense of security that there was someone there to have my back if needed.
Find it! Use it! Be It!
Perhaps, with the fast-paced lifestyle that many families experience, with disjointed commonalities, and with less than trusting, MYOB attitudes prevailing, it is downright difficult to find, to use, or to be a member of a village. A village is much more than populist social-speak. It is power! Power in numbers, mental, physical, and spiritual power.
Find Your Village
For my husband, Steve and I, finding our village was easy. We didn’t need to seek it out, we were born into it. While raising our children, the hub of their village was our large extended families. Our children’s grandparents lived next door and aunts and uncles were scattered throughout our small city. Leading by example was an unspoken rule. (Though, in truth, there are plenty of silly humor-bones that run through our genes, so the ‘good’ example could sometimes walk a fine line.)
Our daughter Jess and son, Dustin knew they were safe and protected within our tribe. They also knew that any one of these members could take them to task if need be. The neighborhood looked out for each other. I had no problem giving the evil eye to a misbehaving playmate, while, sharing treats with that same child later in the day. As parents, we could be confident our children had many eyes watching where we couldn’t, many hands helping do, and many hearts helping be.
Our tribe also shares a spiritual bond within our church family. The atmosphere within the church village is one of peace, trust and love. This segment of our village is concerned with the spiritual and physical well-being of each child and member, providing a safe and comforting environment.
The school system is vital to any village. The teachers, principals, coaches and support staff provide a safe learning environment. There is always open dialogue available to any parent willing. (Sometimes to the horror of a misbehaving child!) Keeping the line of communication open lets the school know that we welcome them into our village. The schools provide a safe environment conducive to learning and success.
Use Your Village
So, we use our village. When approached by a villager with a concern, we listen. When struck with natural disaster, we accept help. When needing advice on child rearing, we consult. Opening up to others can make one feel quite vulnerable. Being certain your village is a safe environment for your children and family helps to reduce that vulnerability, thus, providing comfort in accepting and using guidance and help from others.
I can bake a pretty mean pie, but I have a hang of a time starting a mower! I can grow some bright and happy flowers, but I wouldn’t be able to change a bicycle tire to save my soul. The natural give and take within a village.
A flood in 1986 left our home and lives in shambles, and a life-altering motorcycle accident left me unable to care for myself or my family for a period of time, and an unexpected heart surgery side-lined Steve for months. Being surrounded by a supportive village lessened these trials and tribulations. Be the issue large or small our tribesmen and women are there at the ready.
Be Your Village
In turn, we have a responsibility to engage as villagers. We are the eyes, the ears, the hands, the hearts. We help guide, guard, and we communicate with our village. We provide safety within the invisible walls of our village. We lead by example, we teach each generation our strengths and truths, we discipline when needed. All to ready the next tribe. Our families, our country, and our world depend on strong, confident leaders. Each village will provide leaders. Make yours the village that will bring up positive, strong chiefs and chieftains.
Photos courtesy of Pat Mecham