Where is the Parenting Village?
Oh, internet. Since you seem to know everything about parenting, please set this straight for me because since accidents are no longer accidents and compassion is forbidden, I’m at a loss.
All my life I’ve heard, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Yet the village I’ve seen as of late disgusts me.
Instead of a community working together in a healthy, positive, helpful way to raise children, the village has turned into a place of judgement and hypocrisy with a lack of compassion.
Everyone has an opinion about every accident, and they want to dole out punishments. The ones who were the most vocal about it seemed to think that parents ought to be crucified for incidents like the child who fell into the gorilla enclosure, the baby killed at Disney, or the too many children who perish in hot cars each year. “She should know better,” “ He is a negligent parent,” they said. “I would NEVER let my kid get out of my sight” said many others.
The witch hunts call for charges on the parents. As a mother of a very curious and vibrant 4 year old boy, all I can think is “How awful for that family.” I can’t even fathom placing blame on a mother for something like that, as I know she is likely beating herself over it since it happened. Who am I to wish any more ill on that household in the midst of intense suffering?
In between these tragedies, a post goes viral ranting that we helicopter our kids too damn much. That we should not be helicopter parents, that we should let others reprimand our child in public places, and that we shouldn’t get involved or tell a stranger not to discipline our child if they don’t see us doing it, essentially saying that we should let the “village” of our peers help along the way.
Except where was this village when we parents need help? When we’re overwhelmed, when our kids are too fast and break away, when life happens but we’re expected to be self-sufficient, perfect parents who never inconvenience anyone with our choice to have kids?
Why, instead of thinking of how tragic the incidents are, “the village” seems to exist now just to berate the parents across all forms of social media, news, and conversation. All I have heard for weeks now are “where were the parents?” and “I would NEVER let that happen to my kid. Not on my watch!” It made me sad and scared for what would happen if I ever found myself in a situation where my kid was a victim of a freak accident.
Another viral post rants on about how we should never give in to our children’s demands and how we should let them know that “NO means NO.” (I totally agree with this 100%). However, how in the world am I supposed to enforce that if, when I am at Winn Dixie and my kid throws a fit over wanting candy, you chime in with “Come on, it’s fine, just let him have the candy?”
How about some compassion? What about being considerate?
Or is this the best the village can do?
So let me get this straight:
It isn’t ok to NOT watch my kid.
Except when I’m not supposed to “helicopter parent.”
But then I am supposed to let a stranger discipline my child.
BUT they aren’t supposed to talk to strangers.
Accidents never happen.
Forgiveness isn’t for parents.
I’m not crazy, right?
How about this novel idea?
Be a helpful member of the village. Be a kind person. Use your brain. Have a heart.
Don’t join the witch hunt.
Know the facts. Ask if judging is helping the family in crisis or is just momentary amusement for you.
Please THINK about the situation and recognize these are real people, real families, real mothers and fathers with broken hearts, shame, doubt, and guilt.
Put yourself in their shoes. Really think about how you would want to be treated.