Thursday, March 27, 2014

It Takes a Village

Yesterday after nap Eleanor and I went on a little drive. In the morning after we ran errands we had passed a tractor working in the field. I wanted to take my camera with and snap a few photos of the beautiful spring day. I had just finished a blog post and reading a bible verse at the kitchen table. It was time to go pick up the boys from school. It was one of the busiest hours of my day.

"Mommy mommy look at me!" She said, "Look, see my hands?"

I was busy putting my coat on but I looked down.

There she stood by the front door, hands folded together. Finger tips touching. Smiling, and without a doubt praying.

I wanted to jump up and down. My boys pray, but something about the way she was standing there praying really caught me by surprise. I had my camera within arms reach and I just had to take a picture.

Gently I asked her who showed her to fold her hands together like that. I clicked the capture button. Click. She answered, " Mary." Click.

I asked her if she knew what that was. She said, "I'm praying mom. Like Mary." The shutter clicked twice more.

It wasn't mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, or seeing a friend pray. She definitely has seen all of those people pray. It was her Aunt Mary. My youngest sister. She was the one who made an impression on my daughter Eleanor.

We as parents are a constant role model for our children. We are the first to leave an impression on our children's hearts. We nurture them physically. We strive to love them and care for all of the spiritual and emotional needs. We hope to raise them well.

Sometimes though, the impression that makes a difference comes from someone else. It could a family member, a neighbor, a friend at school. Maybe a teacher or mentor or even a stranger. Community matters.

It takes a village to raise a child. Not because parents are not important. Parents are the most important relationship a child will have. However, other relationships are important to a child too. The diversity of love from many people shapes us into the unique person that we are. Everyone has a unique life experience. No one will live a life exactly like you. Yet, when we share part of ourselves we often connect because we see something in our relationship that promotes a value we understand and share.

Values come from relationships. We only understand values when we see them outside of our home. Parents can help label them and point them out to their children. They ideally model them in the home. This is good. But often it is observing someone else act out a value or listening to someone else speak on a topic that we start to fully comprehend what that value really means.

What does this mean for us then? It means when everyone works together in a village, a village is stronger. If every child is met with kindness, gentleness, and sincere love that is what a child will know. It means every person in the community becomes important. The task of raising a child should be something that belongs to all of us.

The more loving and healthy relationships a child has the more opportunities they have to thrive. There isn't a perfect formula, but our communities need individuals that love. They need aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas that love them. They need teachers that are excited to see their class every day. They need mentors and pastors that they can trust to lead them. They need to know that there is such a thing as a good neighbor who is looking out for them. People are a part of our life experience. It is these relationships in "our village" that define us.

It takes a village. It takes love.

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