Does It Really Take A Village…?

The proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child” is a familiar saying used to describe the importance of community efforts to ensure its children’s well being along with each individual family’s efforts. The saying and its attribution as an African proverb is sometimes thought of having originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and the proverb “Ora na azu nwa” which means it takes the community/village to raise a child.

Current day research on keeping kids healthy focuses on a similar theme. To keep them safe, according to experts, today’s kids need to be watched and supervised by not only their own parents or guardians but also need to be overseen by other adults in the community [Rishel, Carrie, Sales, Esther, Koeske, Gary. Relationships with Non-Parental Adults and Child Behavior. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. 2005-02-01].

The pace of life for today’s families has increased to such a degree that children’s parents can barely keep up with them. Unlike the days of our youth, kids are well connected to a lot of materials outside of our homes: media, Internet, cable TV, cell phones, etc. This is not the same, though, as being connected with other trusted adults who are concerned with the well being of children. Privacy issues and boundary considerations make it even more difficult for adults to get involved with other people’s children. Kids today are losing their close contact with other adults in their lives.

Research has also documented that kids are more likely to grow up safely if they have a healthy relationship with at least one other adult who is not their parent [http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18]. Learning how to trust others from a generation other than one’s own is a life skill that begins in childhood.

Some schools are adopting a new program to train parents to work together to form just such a community. PARENT-TO-PARENT COMMUNICATION TRAINING works with parents of a specific grade level to connect with each other, identifying the challenges facing today’s families and practicing techniques to break through the impediments preventing parents from communicating with each other.

Beginning with activities to help parents get to know each other’s names, discussions emerge about stressors in family life and how to inoculate families to prevent or minimize those stressors. This is followed by small group activities where real life dilemmas are deconstructed and ideas generated about how parents could benefit from contacting each other. It soon becomes apparent that it can be difficult to make contact with other parents and a list of “impediments to communication” is created.

As a large group, ideas are generated to break through the impediments standing in the way of the desired communication. Small groups are re-formed and parents practice giving and receiving communication about the dilemmas. Finally, the large group is surveyed about their individual desire to be contacted if anyone is ever concerned about their child. The unanimous hand-raising confirms to the group that they have been given permission to contact each other if/when real dilemmas occur in the future.

It really does take a village to raise healthy kids today. Schools can help to teach its parent community how to do this effectively.

For more information on this dynamic parenting program, please contact us at contact@childsense.net.

 

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October 1, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.