*NOTE, FREE RANGE CHILD HAD NOW BEEN RENAMED WILDER CHILD*
If you are blessed to be raising children in this moment in time you will be more than aware of the outright abundant joy but also great challenges that parenting brings. These days most parents are supporting and facilitating the growth of children within the standard Western dynamic of mother, father and children within four walls.
Somewhere along the way we lost the value of relationship, of extended family, of our elders and mentors, and we began to cultivate a more segregated approach to growing up our children, that of the nuclear family context. As psychologist Robin Grille states “The nuclear family is a wrong turn in history that does not meet all of the child’s needs. It can be exhausting”.
It is exhausting. It is rough, isolating and psychologically unhealthy. We need to accept this construct as ultimately dysfunctional . We weren’t meant to do it alone.
The African proverb, ‘It takes a Village to raise a child’ is a truth that we know in our bones. Instinctually, we know children need more than what the nuclear family offers them and us. It is a great fault in modern society that we separate children from the world and work of adults. Taking from the permaculture principle of integration not segregation we need to include children so they can learn and grow deeper into themselves as a whole through every opportunity of connection and interaction.
The concept of the Village offers up the ultimate multilayered learning and connections needed by children and adults simultaneously. It is the ultimate socialization and cultivation of biodiversity in relationship. The Village where many hands make light work of parenting is of paramount importance not just to easing the load on the mama and the papa but ultimately, it is good and right for children.
Children are meant to be supported by a range of people, each with their own path, skills and way of being in the world. Children naturally seek meaning in the world, they seek out culture and story. They value this. They are intrinsically meant to be learning through connection, interweaving their narratives with other’s and the land on which they walk.
Children need to experience their world through the lens of others and nature and filter it down, making sense and crystallizing it for themselves . The support of adults and children of differing ages and stages have a lot to offer a child and their growth in this. Through the varied communication, friendships, mentorships and interactions, the Village facilitates the making of world citizens, guardians of the planet and whole, nourished people. The Village is a closed energetically vibrant system where everyone is valued for what they bring to this life and to each other.
The Village can support children to fully know they matter and what they offer is meaningful in the world. Not only that, children have huge gifts to offer adults and community. We can learn everything from them. We can remember that they are pure potential, unconditioned. They are creativity and play personified. They hold the ultimate beginners mind. As adults we can return to this place with them. As we raise our children consciously together, we rise up and evolve in ourselves.
Now more than ever we must mend relationships and bridge the gaps between generations. We need to find our tribe. We need to need to create our village. This is not just a bygone construct or an overtly romanticized notion.
It is obvious that many parents will not be able to have grandparents or family live with them and help raise their children, yet life offers us many opportunities to cultivate community in which to support each other. We simply must be like the child and seek them.
We don’t all need to live in intentional communities to create a village and raise children together but we do need to go deeper than the weather and who won the game. We need to drop the facade dissolve the ego, suspend judgment and break down the walls that separate us. We all have something to offer each other and our children.
Connect with others of like mind. Come together, abandon ‘play dates’ and just parent together. Mother together. Father together. Just be together.
Find elders in your community and reach out. Grow and prepare food together. Co-house. Embrace nature as part of the Village and know it together. Work together. Farm together. Throw open your doors and open up your homes. Go out on the street. Say hello to your neighbors. Host traveler’s and WOOFERS. Seek our cultural creatives and multi passionate adults to mentor your children. Laugh together. Cry together. Exalt and grieve together. Be seen.
Make connections and open your heart and mind. Share the joy of and blatant chaos of parenting.
Do it for yourselves and do it for your children.