I’m going to cut to the chase and assume that you are familiar with the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. It takes a village to raise a child is a directive about parenting – a decree communicating that child-rearing requires the assistance of a community.
However, what you probably have not heard or considered is that it takes a village to produce a parent. Yes, it’s absolutely true and you heard it here first. Make sure that you spell my name correctly when you use the quote – Nathaniel A. Turner said “It takes a village to produce a parent”.
The Birds and the Bees
Males and females have babies but men and women raise children. Yet, we award the most important title in all the world to people who rarely did anything more than participate in an intimate moment. And when I say moment, I’m not kidding. Can you say 3 to 13 minutes!
Think about how absurd this is. In fact, say this phrase out loud ten times – 3 to 13 minutes, 3 to 13 minutes, 3 to 13 minutes… Now say the phrase with crackers in your mouth and standing on your head. So now you think I’m being ridiculous but you don’t question the manner in which people become parents. Very interesting! I’m learning a lot about you!
Lots of people treat parenting as if they are Charlie Bucket having received the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – excited to win the conception lottery but having no idea that parenting is not a quick trip to a magical world. And let’s be clear, there is absolutely nothing magical about parenting.
Parenting is neither sugar and spice nor is it everything nice. Parenting is not a time to suspend reality. Yet males and females having received no training, having read zero books and having participated in 3 to 13 minutes of incidental activity – imagine themselves parents the moment the doctor hands them their golden ticket – their precious little bundle of joy.
Don’t Worry There Aren’t Any Requirements
Since we are suspending imagination regarding the need for parenting qualifications and training, let’s go ahead and envision a world where professional qualifications and training were not required for any occupation. Imagine boarding a plane and meeting the pilot – an eight year old who received his 3 to 13 minutes of aeronautical training while sitting in the back seat of a parked car. Imagine needing brain surgery and meeting the surgeon – a six-year old who only recently learned to eat her peas and carrots without spilling them all over the table.
How excited are you about that flight? How good are you feeling about that surgery? I’m going to go out on a limb and imagine you are not likely to board the plane or lay on an operating table.
While you may find my illustrations on the verge of absurdity don’t be mad at me – this is precisely what parenting is – an unregulated profession (i.e. Stay At Home Parent) that has no minimum age, aptitude, allegiance or continuing education requirements. Let me not forget to stress that I’m a whole lot of things but absurd I’m not.
Absurd without a doubt is what we accept as parenting. You can do almost nothing in this country that permits you to act as an agent, professional, representative or caregiver after having participated in 3 to 13 minutes of incidental activity. Yet, we deem anyone because they were physically able to participate in a 3 to 13 minute act to be a parent.
“After only 3 to 13 minutes of incidental activity a person is bestowed the title of parent with all the rights and responsibilities for the development and training of another human being.”
If you won’t say it, I will. This is absurd. This is UNREAL!
Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction – Can You Handle It
The point that I’m attempting to make is that ALL parents – current and potential – would benefit from some form of ongoing continuous parenting training. Parenting last at least eighteen years and there is little chance you can know all you need to know after 3 to 13 minutes. And for the record, I am not advocating some government intervention. The government already has enough on its plate and I am not confident that they would get it right anyway.
What I’m advocating is much simpler. I’m advocating that if parents expect the people who interact with our children to be trained and continually educated – parents need to be trained and continually educated as well. Moreover, I’m advocating an acceptance of two parenting truths:
- Truth No. 1 – A key to improved parenting lies in parents personifying and upholding the simple societal instructions they received from their parents and grandparents when they were children. Directives like treat people the way you want to be treated, keep a smile on your face, always say please & thank you, you can be whatever you want to be, be patient…, etc. Life instructions often absent in parenting today.
- Truth No. 2 – A key to improved parenting lies in restoring the foundational villages parents were encouraged to inhabit when they were living at home but mistakenly abandoned the moment they move out the house. Communities that exclusively consisted of people who received and honored the directives from Truth No. 1.
Does that all make perfect sense or do you require some additional training that might last another 3 to 13 minutes? Don’t worry, I’ll breakdown Truths 1 and 2 in greater detail in the next post. In the meantime, do yourself and your children a favor by answering a few questions.
- Am I living my life and/or raising my children based on those simple societal instructions I received as a child? What exactly are the principles that truly govern my life?
- Are those who make up my communities (work, live and play) anything like the children my parents wanted me to befriend or like those I was encouraged to avoid? Have I become and/or am I now raising one of the materialistic, self-absorbed, temperamental, lonely or inconsiderate kids that I despised as a child?
- Have I developed behavioral habits and/or become part of a village that will make it possible or impossible to raise my child (the way I hoped)? Of the five people I associate with the most which person(s) would I be most comfortable having raise my child?