Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"It Takes A Village..."

My grandmother and I recently had a disagreement. It was not ugly, but I also knew to simply walk away. There would be no changing of either of our minds. What would cause a disagreement between us? The African proverb of "It takes a village to raise a child."

My grandma is a strong woman. She raised 12 (that is not a typo-- twelve) kids! Now she is taking care of my uncles three children a lot of the time. She says that she has "raised her kids" but is starting over. I do not blame her for being bitter, but she could put her foot down too. Anyway, her argument and problem with Senator (Hillary) Clinton's interpretation of the statement-- my grandma believes that Senator Clinton uses it to describe that other people and the government should help raise the children in this country. Ironically, in 1996 at the Republican National Convention, Bob Dole said, "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.".

I have not read Clinton's book (yet), but I have read various speeches she has given on the topic, and in a lot of ways I agree with her premise-- that it does take a village. It takes competent educators, a solid police force, caring doctors, and many others who care enough to make a difference. Clinton does not relieve parents of their duties to care for their child (or children), but she goes beyond family and recognizes outside influences and needs.

Clinton recognizes that many new parents need help -- everything from advice on what to do with their newborn to time to recover from delivery, and the system is failing them. This is one area that I am sensitive to. Germany did such a great job of putting resources at my fingertips that I would need when I took my baby home. I was able to call my midwife any time with questions and problems, and she looked in on us regularly. In a time when many young parents are not near their parents or others who can offer solid advice, this type of care is important.

Clinton's ideas are common sense. Health care and/or insurance should be affordable. Educators need support and funding. Parents need to be hands on.

As Jackie Kennedy Onassis said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters much." As a country, we need to do it right-- with action, not lip-service.

And so-- as a young new mother, I know I can not do it alone. I know I will not do it alone. I will support those who influence my son. I will make a difference.

"It takes a village..."


KaritaG said...

I agree with you completely...being so far from our families makes jason and I nervous about having kids, honestly. We have great friends here but it's not the same. And I think, what if we were not as financially stable as we are? What if we didn't have good health care, or couldn't afford a nanny/day care, etc.? I can't imagine how hard it would be. If you have a large extended family close, that's great... but if you don't, I believe that it does actually take a "village," whether that's a network of friends, government-provided help, or whatever. Great post.

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