21 May 2009

It Takes a Village

Today at Josh's Socatots class and also at Zoe's swim class. Most of the parents (and helpers) were cheering on all the children, including those not their own. Well done! What a goal! Great save! Good job. Good try. Kind encouragement was given to all. This is how it should be.

Outside of the immediate family, all the other "grown-ups" in our children's life play a role in helping to shape how our children turn out. From the more obvious ones --the grandparents and other family members that you might see regularly, the teachers, and in our case, our helper, --to the not-so-obvious ones, the other "uncles and aunties": the "people in our neighborhood" (the mailman, the security guards, your priest/pastor/minister, etc.), the other parents in the playgroups and classes that our children attend, our neighbors, the caregivers (nannies, etc.) of the other children that our children play with, our own sets of friends.

Hillary Clinton wrote It Takes a Village over 10 years ago where she acknowledged how the people outside the family can affect our children's well-being and how we need to take an active role in our children's lives. She talked of how "children exist in the world as well as in the family"; that our children depend "on a host of other 'grown-ups' ...who touch their lives directly and indirectly"; that each one of us "plays a part in every child's life: It takes a village to raise a child."
I find that to be so true.

In the elevator. When someone greets you or acknowledges your presence, it is but polite that you return the courtesy. When a child greets you "good morning," it's even more of an imperative that you respond. Parents can teach their children good manners, but when children see other grown-ups not practicing good manners, it can get a bit confusing. I remember clearly one time when we were in the elevator, Josh greeted a lady "good morning." She totally ignored him. Josh, not one to be deterred, said it again, only louder. Still no response. I told Josh that maybe she didn't understand English. So Josh said good morning in both Cantonese and Putonghua. She didn't even deign to acknowledge. I was biting my tongue lest I say something really rude when Josh looked at me and said, "Maybe her mommy didn't teach her manners." Bingo.

Parenting is challenging enough in making sure that we teach our children the right values, that we model the correct behavior, without having to constantly undo "lessons" that we'd rather our kids not have learned from "the village."


Lindy said...

He said it in three different languages and the lady didn't say one word back? Good for him for saying exactly what he said!

sunnymama said...

Good for him! Even if she spoke none of those languages she could have smiled. I do find it sad when people don't say hello in reply to sunnyboy, I know it's not that they all didn't here him.

sunnymama said...

Oops I meant to say "hear him". :)

A little piece of 7th heaven said...

What a great and articulate post. You are so right.
Wow..your son speaks English, Cantonese and Manderin??IMPRESSIVE:)
Did you teach them all to him?
I just love languages and I am always trying to learn Cantonese..and while I understand some..speaking is another story!
Can't seem to quite get it..YET..

Mahmee said...

Funny....I was just pondering this very subject. Our daughter is always greeting strangers with a hearty hello, etc. And lately, we've encountered some folks like your elevator lady and it boggles my mind. Love the ending to that elevator story, by the way. Awesome.
Have a good weekend!

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

Did the woman acknowledge him after he said that? Was there a chance she was deaf?

LPC said...

As an aunt, I know that one of my jobs is to reinforce the lessons that my sisters work on with their kids day in and day out. My existence teaches the little ones that becoming socialized is not just a fascinating battle with Mom. I also show the kids where there are some variations on the rules, but always within the boundaries of our family's beliefs. And sometimes I teach them that not all grownups think the same way about absolutely everything. But again, within a realm my sisters are comfortable with.

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin