Or Does it? By Roberta Hart
Witty catch phrases have become the cornerstone for morality in this country, of late. We sling them around on a nearly daily basis. “It takes a village”, has become the mantra for every underachieving parent in this country. Its connotation alone denotes apathy toward responsibility. In simple terms, the translation of this phrase is heard in the minds of mothers and fathers, is “it is not just my responsibility to raise my own children, but society’s as well. Therefore, if I succeed, it will be my success, and if I fail, it will be their failure.” This mentality is single-handedly unraveling the core of the family unit.
When one takes the time to look deeper than the surface of a catch phrase, the truth is revealed. A very simple test of this theory can be accomplished, as follows. The only thing required to examine this premise, is a middle, to upper middle class, married, suburban mother of a child ten years of age, or older. Sit down with her, and ask her the following question. “How many phone numbers are contained in your child’s cell phone, and what are their names?” Now, the choice of this question is very important. The answer is profoundly symbolic of how mothers have skirted their responsibility in regard to their children.
I will state the most obvious point first. A ten year old child should not have possession of a cell phone. Where would a ten year old child be long enough, and without supervision, that they require a cell phone ‘in case of an emergency’? The second point you will address will be the apparent lack of knowledge of the information contained within the cell phone. For example, who are the people that your child converses with on a regular basis? Well, thanks to the “village”, we have cell phone “family plans” that are less expensive than individual accounts. This can be a tool for monitoring your child, if you have the proper plan to do so, use it effectively, and actually know who the people are who are listed on the bill.
So, if you already have to go through all of the nonsense of looking at the bill online, and checking up on your child, don’t you think that it may better serve to actually spend that time conversing with your child yourself? You can also converse with your child’s friends and their parents without the cell phone ever being in the hands of your child.
Now, you may find this to be fairly nit picky, however, the big picture is very important. This is the message that is being sent to the child, “I am too busy to be concerned about your safety, so I am going to hand you a tool that will inevitably become the largest threat to your safety.” Now, here is where the “village” comes in to play. We can now conference call with three different mothers to arrange carpools, play dates, and pick up times. Then, the most important phone call involved, the one to the child. So, this begs the question, who is physically present with the child? I will answer. It is whoever is
operating the activity for the children. Now, I ask you, without that cell phone, what are the other options?
The answer is simple, making your child your first priority. The age old idea of making sure that you, as a mother, are present at the end of every football practice. The idea that you, as a mother, are aware of what time, location, and activity your child is participating in, because you have seen it with your own eyes. The idea that you, as a mother, care enough to protect them even from themselves, is one that should be passed on through the generations. Somehow, somewhere, we have lost that idea.
So, now you are thinking, what does this have to do with “it takes a village”? Well, it is very simple. That phrase creates a “pack mentality”. We now have packs of den mothers, each shirking their responsibility onto another. We arm our children with these mobile communication devices, because it justifies the “pack mentality”. In very simple terms, it is a false sense of security, and when it fails, there are other members of the pack that will take the blame. I will ask, at this point, “Are you that member?” I want you to take a minute to answer that question for yourself. You see, it is not the responsibility of the village to raise your child. Let me say that again, it is not the responsibility of the village to raise your child.
The responsibility of the village is to each raise their own child, and to provide a safe and secure environment at home before sending them off to meet the villagers. That same concept applies to that tool that you have armed your child with. It is your responsibility to be aware of who your child is speaking with, and how often. It is your responsibility to protect your child from predators that can now access your child via a method of communication that you provided them. It is your responsibility to know who your child is with, at all times.
A village is comprised of individuals. Once we adopt a pack mentality, individual responsibility becomes more and more obsolete. A mechanical device in the hand of a child is not a tool for their safety, it is a tool for your neglect. The excuses for this behavior are vast, and ridiculous. In this world of both parents working, to support a lifestyle beyond the necessity of the child, we revel in our own greed and selfishness. We have become parents of consumer driven drones. We are in a race to see who can collect the most over priced material items. We spoil our children with material possessions to justify the absence of our presence in their lives. Now folks, that is your village. So, I will ask you one more time, do you really want the village raising your child?
Take this time to stop, and think. I want you to think about the times you have made excuses for your own, and your child’s behavior. I want you to think about your responsibility within the village. This is what needs to be understood. The term “It takes a village” means that we, as parents and members of society are the village. It is not an intangible force that you can call on when you fail at being a functional member. So please, take the cell phones away, unplug the video games, cook a meal that doesn’t come out of a can, or a bag, and sit down with your child. Talk to them, find out who they are.
The phone can ring, and your emails will still be waiting when you are finished. If you do, you may very well uncover the next village warrior. A warrior full of strength, pride, and determination. You can of course, not heed this warning, and go about the status quo, after all, every village has warriors, leaders, followers, and fools.
Which one would you like your child to be?
About the Author: Roberta Hart is the mother of three young sons rapidly approaching adolescence. She is a 34 year old Landscaping Supervisor and Freelance Writer residing in Western PA. Roberta’s most recent articles and essays have been published in The Cynic Online Magazine and HealthyPlace.com. She has lived all her life in a middle class, real world, suburban setting, and uses her skills as a communicator and writer to convey a message, purely in the hopes that someone, anyone is listening.