It Takes a Village, but Where is the Village?

Abbey Williams

The modern world has created a society that moves families further and further apart. Parents raise their children, maybe they go off to college, maybe they find jobs in other cities, maybe they move out of the state, maybe they study abroad and meet the love of their life. There are many factors at play for families being more dispersed than they once were, but the question is… what is this doing to modern motherhood? What is this doing to the parents of this generation?

There is an old saying, “it takes a village,” in reference to raising children and raising a family. In generations past, families had the help of their families of origin to assist in the childrearing challenges. Now, in present time, with more and more families having two parents who are working outside of the home and the cost of childcare, housing, and living being much more than it was in the past, is there really a more needed time for the “village” than there is now?

As a mother of four, I can tell you me personally could really use that village right about now!

So for families who are raising children without the support of family, how can we recreate what that “village” looks like and how they support parents today?

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The friends that you make family

In my house we have a lot of different “others” that have become more like family to us than some of our actual family. These “others” have filled the roles of grandparents that are not involved or nearby. These “others” take interest in knowing our children and being there for them the way we expect our family of origin to be.

Whether you are distanced from what you expected your “village” to look like because of physical distance or because of estrangement, it is hard filling those roles. It is hard shifting your expectations from what you envisioned raising children looking like to what your circumstances have ended up like.

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Photo by Ekaterina Shakharova on Unsplash

Those friends, neighbors, the sitter, a coach and the other people that slip into these roles that they did not have to fill, but choose to… they are beyond special. Your children thrive when people who love and support them, surround them. Even if they aren’t the people you expected to have filling these roles, your children will be more connected as a result of authentic and close support.

The people that fill the helper roles

Modern parenting has added more to the plate, packed more things on the agenda, and has left parent’s scrambling, especially when struggling with a lack of “village” to help make everything fall into place seamlessly. However, with modern parenting has come a modern world, and with the modern world there are many advantages to create shortcuts and easier ways of doing things that are more time efficient and effective for busy parents.

Some parts of the modern village that we may not even recognize are the coffee drive-thru crew. That morning barista who welcomes you and sends you on your way with a smile and a well wish can really boost your mood first thing in the morning. These interactions are beneficial for our happiness and our well-being, not to mention the time and energy you just saved by not having to unload all the kids on your way to dropping them off at daycare and trying to make it to work on time. Likewise, the cashier at the grocery store who asks how you are doing and gives your kids stickers each time. It’s an outing they look forward to and you feel supported to get them to the finish line without any meltdowns in the grocery store and have a prize waiting.

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Photo by Yannis H on Unsplash

The childcare providers and school teachers are a huge part of our modern “village.” These special people spend many hours a week with our children making sure they are safe, supported, well cared for and thriving. We could not do this without our teachers and early childhood workers! Stand ovation to those people who help us day in and day out and show up with a smile each day to create a positive space for our kiddos to land.

The other ways we get creative and find support

The support parents need during these modern times has changed since past generations of parents. Parent’s today are carrying unbelievably heavy loads between working and raising a family. Offloading some of your tasks can be a form of self-care, a form of survival, and a form of the new “village.” Parents today are getting creative with the ways in which they find and utilize support, which can look like hiring a cleaning person. Outsourcing a job that is taking up time and energy that you need for your family it utilizing the “village.” Some other ways we can lean into this kind of help are utilizing a laundry service, having your groceries delivered, and the amazon delivery people.

Social media is another tool that parents today are utilizing as a means for support. And do not get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons social media can be negative and even harmful for parents, but there are equally really great ways for parents to get the support they need. Parent’s can keep in touch with the family that they are distanced from by sharing pictures and fun things the kids are doing and saying. Parent’s can join Facebook groups for virtually anything from breastfeeding support to baby led weaning to homeschooling and more. The Facebook groups feature has created a supportive space for parents to share and connect. Instgram and other social media platforms have also created support for parents today. With the presence of mommy bloggers, clinicians, healthcare providers, and more parents can find support for all stages and needs.

There is no denying it, the way in which we support parents in our modern society has changed, evolved, and grown. Parents have gotten creative and have rolled with these new ways of living, but some often still feel discouraged by the lack of the “village” they expected during this season of their life.

That’s why it’s important to reframe what the “village” means and looks like today and it’s important to identify all the people and ways we get support nowadays.

Sometimes the “village” is not the one you pictured. Sometimes it does not include the people society has use thinking it “should.” Sometimes it is the one you have to intentionally create.

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Abbey Williams is the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She navigates her blended family/coparenting life with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.

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