Let’s get this right out in the open. I believe it takes a Village to raise children. As a society, the level of importance given children’s welfare rivals that of our very survival. It is a moral and biological obligation that all adults protect, nurture and care for children. Our children are “All Our Children”. Now, with that said, I’d like to pose a question. Does the belief that it takes a Village to raise children relieve parents of their responsibility over the safety, well-being and care of their children?
This past week, I ran into a situation that greatly challenges my belief in who is responsible for children. I had just finished shopping with my boys at one of those Shopping Clubs where you can get a pack of 36 juice boxes for $2 and have the pleasure of watching your children morph into speed demons from over stimulation. Anyway before leaving, I moved my kids towards the ultimate reward, a ride on the mechanical truck by the exit. We found an unattended toddler finishing his ride, so we waited our turn, while I looked around for the child’s caretaker. Make sure children are cared for – that’s what you do, right? As the little boy’s turn ended, I was startled by a bellow from the other side of the store telling the toddler to get down. The boy’s caregiver (I don’t know if it was a relation, a day care provider or what) was having a coffee on the other side of the store, and had just looked up to see what he was doing. I assumed she would come get him, as toddlers are famous for making a beeline to the next thing of interest. Not a chance. She stayed put with her coffee and stuck her nose back in the paper.
My boys really enjoyed their rides together. The little boy loved trucks just as much, however, and he wasn’t about to leave. He attempted to climb the mechanical truck, squeeze into the 3 inches between it and the wall, and put his fingers underneath to see how it works – all this while the truck was in motion. Not once did his caregiver get up out of her seat and remove him from harm’s way, let alone look up to see that he was safe. She just assumed I, a complete stranger, would take care of it, I guess.
Now, if you have never been in a shopping club, it is a warehouse-sized building, with people and stuff hustling all over the place. No one would have noticed if this toddler accompanied my two boys and I out the door. By the time this woman realized she couldn’t see the child, he would be long gone and witnesses would be scarce. She just assumed someone would look out for him while she had her coffee.
When you buy a house, you are responsible for paying the mortgage each month. When you start a new job, you are responsible for showing up each day. When you take a book from a library, you are responsible for its care and return. Why is it, then, that parents are not held to the same level of accountability for their children??? Why do we assume schools will teach our children ethical behavior? Why do we assume a toddler near a moving mechanical object has the reasoning power to determine what is safe?
Children are not tax deductions, mini adults, or something you have because everyone expects it. Having a child means taking responsibility for the care and nurture of a young, unformed life. It does take a village to support the upbringing of children, but ultimately parents are responsible.
All the best,