Our Children Need a Village
How Isolation Has Harmed Our Kids, and the Need to Create Supportive Communities
I see parents struggling in various ways almost everywhere I look these days. Lately I've seen young couples tiredly pushing their double-strollers with exhausted looks on their faces, single moms desperately trying to hold it all together, and weekend dads who seek to be a greater part of their kids' lives.
No matter what the situation, the common thread in modern-day life is a sense of isolation and a lack of real, loving, community support.
The video talks about building your own village, and that is certainly no easy task, at least at first. What I try to do is look at how I can take small steps every day in service to that goal.
For example, I can talk to my neighbors about starting a garden and sharing different produce together. I could offer to babysit my friends' kids, and families could have group meals and other fun events.
Isolation is the killer of the community spirit. For example, in my building there are many single people as well as single moms and small families.
Most of the time, everyone keeps to themselves but lately there has been a rekindling of community spirit. We've worked together to clean our building and have been sharing food and conversation more often as of late.
It ought to be implied that any adults in a building or neighborhood will inherently watch out for any children in the area. This in itself is a large part of building a healthy village or community; the safeguarding of children is something everyone can agree with.
Once we have the basic needs and a sense of safety and stability kids need to start developing in other areas of life. One beneficial aspect of the village model is that adults can share their skills and experience with everyone else's kids as well as their own. In isolation, it is very difficult to learn from others and to grow and expand as a person. We don't function well in a vacuum, but we definitely benefit from an atmosphere of support and sharing.
Kids today all too often prefer to spend real time doing virtual things. If they're hanging out with real friends in person, most of their attention may still be funneled directly into their ironically-named smartphone.
Once we start to consciously build and cultivate our own local community focus, kids and adults alike will have a lot more creative opportunities available to them. In addition, everyone will feel a lot more welcome and people will be able to relax and enjoy each others' company a lot more.
Isolation is often a breeder of addictive behaviors of many different kinds. When local communities are engaged in healthy activities together, there is far less scope for any individual to fall into these traps.
We've heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is the kind of thing that the village-type community addresses very well.
There are many systemic causes for all the serious problems in our society today. If our society were radically different in a positive way, then individual people would be less and less likely to fall into downward spirals of their own making.
In previous articles, I've talked about how substances have been shown to be more likely to have greater negative effects on young people. Many young people I've worked with have grown up in households where one or more people were chronic substance abusers.
Imagine this same child growing up in the kind of supportive village we've been discussing. No adult around them has any need to use drugs to escape, and so this type of thing is simply not part of that child's reality.