Some people believe it takes a village to raise a child; in our case it will probably take a whole fucking city.The lengths you go to, to prevent your dysfunctional, magnet-attracting-trouble teenager, from creating havoc while you’re away.
When Louisa Clare shared a post from Revolution From Home entitled In The Absence Of The Village, Mothers Struggle Most this week, she reminded me of the idea of the ‘village’ and the way many of our parents raised their children; with support from family and the local community. If you read the post, I’m certain that many of you will be able to identify with Beth’s list of the problems modern parents face today, that stem from not having the same life-line.
As she says, ‘In the absence of the village, we’re disadvantaged like never before. We may have more freedoms than our foremothers, but our burden remains disproportionately, oppressively heavy’.
It often saddens me that we so rarely have a ‘village’ at our disposal to help raise our offspring. That extra support that so much of us go without today might be the missing link to premature burn out, mental health issues and divorce and certainly shouldn’t be ignored as one of the root triggers of the entitlement issues manifested by Generation Y today.
I was fortunate to have a ‘village’ to support my parents when I was growing up – a tight family network that rallied around when my mother became the first woman in the family to get divorced. We all lived in different suburbs, but congregated to the matriarch (Granny’s) at the weekend to be indulged and reminded about the importance of respecting our parents, taught how to share via rough play with cousins, forced to eat beetroot and salad cream – a lesson in managing our expectations, I assume – and treated with Space Saucers on our way out – something I now realise was probably a bribe for good behavior for the following week.
I know from my day job when I talk to my clients, (who come from all different cultures), that having a village to raise your child still happens in most third world countries, but it might surprise you to know that many European cultures still employ some of those traditional child-rearing methods, too. In Italy, the kids rarely leave home until they marry and once they do get hitched, they take on the responsibility for looking after their ageing parents. The majority of Asian countries follow a similar circle-of-life policy.
Could this be why many western kids are floundering now? Because they haven’t had the support and protection of close family around to help shape them – the only people close enough to be honest with them, to teach and incorporate within them the right values in their lives?
As you already know (here), the idea of relying on other people to look out for our own child is very pertinent for us right now, as the old man and I swan off to distant shores together for the first time child-free, removing some of the scaffolding that has supported Kurt up until now. Rest assured, I’ve been through every stage of guilt about this trip – the early ‘mother-guilt stage’, the stage where I told the old man he couldn’t possibly go after the latest Kurt-fuelled crisis, to this point, where I’ve finally reached a measure of acceptance, and we’re re-writing our wills.
And although I may not have the traditional ‘village’ to be ‘our eyes’ while we’re away, I have a bunch of wonderful surrogate family members who have offered their private detective/childcare services to protect the local community from our child.
In fact, it has really touched me how many offers of help we’ve received; especially when so many of those offers have come from people who read my blog. It has made me realise how much we Kurt needs this – in fact it could be the making of our boy.
So thanks to that friend who advised me that Kurt will be fine… but I might want to take a photo of how the apartment looked before we left, as well as to those friends who are Kurt-sitting for the middle weekend to give NC some space in which to restore her sanity, vocal chords and patience. Thanks also to those many girlfriends who have offered up their middle-aged husbands as bouncers in case an emergency extraction is required when the concierge realises that it is indeed our apartment on the roof terrace, that is hosting the newest live Sydney music festival, and all hell breaks loose.