I am a firm believer in the whole "it takes a village" philosophy when it comes to raising children. In fact, I thought most people would feel the same way until I saw the reaction MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry received about her plea for essentially just that. She spoke about how children should be everyone's responsibility, not just that of the parents. What exactly is so wrong with her suggestion?
After all, back in the day, that is exactly how it was. When my mother was growing up, every parent on the block knew every child. If they saw that child doing something dangerous or wrong, they quickly intervened. If a kid was playing with your kid around dinnertime, you set an extra plate if you could. The community shared in the responsibility of caring for each other's kids. You didn't have to even ask. It's just something that was.
Along that same line, Harris-Perry advocates for children being more than just a part of the household they are born into. They are a part of a larger community and deserve to be looked after by that community. Why in the world would someone take issue with that? She's not asking you to pay for a neighbor kid's college tuition or braces. It's something much more profound. It's about being concerned for their emotional and physical well-being. It's caring enough to notice a child in need and having the courage to offer a helping hand.
Can you imagine if that kind of accountability was the norm now? Perhaps no kid would go hungry. Perhaps no kid would ever feel neglected. It's an ideal as far as I'm concerned. Though I will admit that we are living in a time when we can't always trust our neighbors. And those around us don't always share our values. But it's possible to create a network of like-minded people. That is something my husband and I try to cultivate in our New York City high-rise. We don't have any relatives nearby, so we spend a lot of time with other families with kids around the same age as ours. And to a certain extent, I feel responsible for their children, whom I've grown to care for deeply. And I think that kind of connection is something everyone in every community should strive for.
Take a look at Harris-Perry's controversial message:
Do you think raising kids is solely a parent's responsibility?
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