Gentle Parenting

It takes a village they say…

I’ve heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” so many times. And more times than that, I’ve mused over this saying trying to analyse what it actually means in this ever changing society.

Many consider it to mean that as a “village” we support each other. That we lift each other up and that we support the “motherhood“.

After spending far to much time reading on online “mummy groups” I have to say that I think that the “village” saying should sound more like this it takes a village to tell you that you’re always right mummy, pretty much regardless of what you do or say to your child” 

Cause that’s all it is, isn’t it?

My issue with this, old as time, saying and this somewhat new interpretation is that we ignore its origin.

A village is needed to raise a child, but not to be a quiet bystander thus somehow being part of empowering negative treatment of children.

This saying originates from a time when families supported each other, and helped each other in times of need and in daily life.

I truly belive that everyone needs a village for support, be it a group of friends or family.

We need a village to offer encouragement when we are struggling and maybe a helping hand.

I do however strongly feel that a village should encourage other parents to raise their children with love, patience and kindness, and as a village we should support each other to at least aim for this when times are tough!

We all need someone who’s able to step in and say: “enough, you’re not coping right now. You need a break! Let me help”

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be what the modern style villages offer.

Reading posts on mummy pages makes me realise that what we do now is support each other to blame and criticise our children in negative ways using derogatory language and we almost compete in who can describe their kid in the most obscene way.

Some time ago I saw a “venting post” by a mother and it has stayed with me! The mum was upset and emotional. She had witnessed a toddler being shouted at, threatened and slapped whilst being strapped in to a buggy. Most of us would have an emotional response to seeing this.

We have no idea what kind of day the person assaulting the toddler had, of course.

We also don’t know if the child had a day full of meltdowns, and it really pushed the adult to the edge.

However, what we DO know is that this isn’t acceptable behaviour.

Loosing control should be disappointing, should it not? I aim to be a patient, and kind mother but in reality I loose the plot more times then I care to remember. It’s hard feeling so angry and being unable to control an irrational response to the madness being a parent brings.

But is “loosing control” suddenly something we should display with pride instead of admitting our wrong doing and simply trying to find ways to help us cope better?

On the post about the toddler being mistreated, the comments of support quickly followed.

I assumed they would be empathic with the poster as most of us would feel unsettled, witnessing this threatful and aggressive behaviour towards a young child!

Shockingly, the posts were not condemning the actions of this adult who used violence against a very young child instead posters were supporting this woman in her supposed distress.

“How can you judge her, she probably had a hard day” 

“you’ve only seen a snapshot of her day”

“You don’t know what she has to deal with”

And to be fair, we don’t know anything about this mother and the witness of course only knows what she saw but does that mean we should instantly assume that the lady is normally a rocking mother and that this day was the exception?

Or does it mean that we should assume that she’s always abusive and rough in the treatment of her child?

It means neither!

We shouldn’t make assumptions either way because frankly We do not know what kind of mother she is! 

I believe it’s safe to say that the majority of us loose our patience at times and of course we get to the point where we’ve had enough and all that can help us is a glass of wine or a mega sized bar of chocolate and a chat with good friends.

This is completely normal, and this is the time to rely on your “village” to pull you through.

Support from those who love you and are able to tell you frank that you’re an awesome mum yet advocate your your children’s well-being.

We need people who care enough for our children to tell us when we need support.

If we struggle we need someone who is honest and caring, someone who tells us that we are needing support and someone who is willing to offer to stand by us when we are struggling the most.

However, If we support another mother’s every action regardless of how damaging it could be, we aren’t supporting at all!

We are allowing her to be destructive towards herself, and her child.

Support is to offload, and help not ignoring issues which may be truly damaging.

Refusing to acknowledge something as truly damaging isn’t the meaning of a village!

Why do we worry more about being called a “perfect mum” or being told we are “judging” than we do about a child who is growing up in a home where fists do the talking?

I worry that this “don’t judge” mantra getting thrown about is damaging and could contribute to the further neglect of children living in abusive homes.

In truth, I believe the “don’t judge” culture can empower parents who are mistreating their children and allow them to continue to do so uninterrupted!

When I completed my training in safe guarding, I was told that “if you witness a situation with a child that makes you feel uneasy and that stays with you until the next day; report it. You could save a child”.

If something I witnessed is on playback in my mind for a day- how long will it stay with the child who is actually living that life?

Every child deserves a voice, and in a society where many voices go unheard it’s important that we speak up for the most vulnerable.

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