Friday, September 05, 2008

The village

You know that saying: IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD? Well, I am a firm believer in that adage. That's because I grew up in India & Dubai where among our community, every one's business was really every one's business. Heck, it still is. Privacy is not a right, you are expected to receive comments on your weight, why you still haven't tied the knot, why you don't have kids yet...a whole lotta whys. And it's not like you can tell them to um...go sod off. You're actually expected to give them a probable, respectable answer, no less. But with this interrogation of a lifestyle, also comes that watchful eye over one's children. You know some one's watching out for all your kids, constantly correcting them, making sure they keep their hands and noses clean. No one has been sat down and told it takes a village, it's just automatically understood, learned behaviour, if you will.

On the other end, if you're in North America, it's the 'It just takes Mom & Dad to raise a child' philosophy. God forbid if you ever offer your two cents, you'd get a rude, mind your own business look. Even new immigrant families are quick to adopt this. It never used to be like this. I think it's the introduction and strong presence of Children's Aid and Child Protection Services (which is there for a good reason), that has everyone on edge. Parents feel that someone commenting or correcting or making sure that their child is doing OK, is proof that they are not doing their job well enough, enough proof to file a complaint to Children's Aid. Every one's on pins and needles. I was once at the mall and I came across a child probably no more than two, wandering aimlessly, with no parent in sight. All I did was ask him, Where's your Mommy? and I was met with the most ferocious thickly accented Middle Eastern woman who came out of nowhere and practically yelled, 'Mommy's right here. So what? What's the problem?' I was taken aback and walked away thinking, Lady if your child is ever in trouble, you're going to have to be a whole lot nicer, because Karma's a bi*ch.

I suppose it's much different when in a smaller city or town. Take the islands for that matter, both Bermuda and Cayman, where the 'It takes a village' philosophy is strongly practiced. While everyone is in every one's business, there's a certain comfort in knowing that children here are looked out for. Of course, lack of privacy is a high price to pay, but for some that is a price worth paying for even if it means that there are watchful eyes out there, protecting and guiding the younger generation. And while I cherish my privacy, I'd want people watching out for my children (when I have them), just like I have been watching out for others', backlash or not.

So, what brought this post on? Well, a certain tragic event that took place last week among the local Cayman community has showed just how much of a child raising village this is and how they are not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked. I cannot go into any more detail yet but I do want to hear from you - Do you feel it takes a village to raise a child or do you feel like you should mind your own business?


Antony said...

HI, Frankly all these years I never thought of it that way, i.e. IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD? Now when I look back I think of the times a lot of people, besides my parents, advised me on a lot of things and because of that I have learnt a lot. I would agree with you but I dont believe it holds true now. I have seen people become more selfish and intolerant with other peoples kids. Instead of advising them I have seen them ridicule them and downright insult them. So frankly I agree with you but I dont think it holds true in this current generation.

ZenDenizen said...

My parents were never social and I was raised in the US so I wasn't used to other people commenting on me. When I visited India during the summer, I hated being told I was too fat, too skinny, too dark, too anything by random neighbors because no one ever closed their doors (or windows).

Claudia said...

You have pointed out a lot of good things in your right up. Yes sometimes it is good for people to watch out for your kids. Well it all depends on lot of situations (i guess). We it is a little difficult to draw the line sometimes. Like I remember those days where we could wander off and still be safe cause this world was a much safer place but that does not mean that bad things did not happen. It did but was hidden and it did not hit the headlines.

So I don't know what it is. I am trying to ponder over it too.

Jude said...

Well I think its the xtra effort put in by people around you not because they want to boss around but its just cause they care. In the western culture most of them dont really dare to even correct a another persons child cause they feel scarred of getting abused by the child. There is lack of respect for elders here & this is what makes most of us think twice before you correct them. People often make fun of the Arab or Asian dads being too tough on the child which is quiet understandable given the rather slack attitude by his neighbours. I think parents should know when to be friendly at the same time rightly change gears when required. Things are gradually changing globally & parents don't really have the time nor energy to give that extra bit to their kids. I think there should be a blend of both of these cultures which will make things easier for both the parents & the kids. When Mumtaz can stay out till 11 at night & jenny has to come home before kl 12 then I will see a change if u know what I mean!!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more...but what you have not mentioned is the other horrific ways that occur in Bermuda on a regular basis which i feel are even more dangerous. How many times have you seen a mother or father on a scooter, driving, while at the same time holding onto a baby or trying to juggle the baby or small child between their legs or eqivalent. Most often than not you can tell that the baby or young child is wearing a helmet that is entirely inappropraite for them (read - way too large) and if every there was an accident...well God help them. Way more than the seatbelt thing, I was shocked and disturbed to see this in Bermuda. I could not beleive people would drive bikes with their little kids - so easily able to become unbalaced at any second,scooting along with no care in the world. My first week in Bermuda I witnessed the worst accident I had ever seen during the entire time I lived in Bermuda. A women on a bike DRINKING A COOLER with a small child in between her legs crashed somehow into another scooter. I beleive the two parties were talking and driving as they went along and then crash. The bottle smashed everywhere. The baby miracuosly was totally fine, but you could tell the woman was embarrassed and shaken. I kept thinking "is this normal? Do people do things like this". Thankfully everyone was fine. The two adults seemed shaken but everyone seemed to have gotten along ok.

Anyway, I just find you can only shake your head and try to do better yourself. There is always going to be some idiot who does not take proper safety of his/herself and child properly but really what can you do?

bermudabluez said...

Very, very good post!!! I totally agree with you ... you have made many good points. I think it's good if we all kind of watch out for each other's kids, but so many people take it as an insult if you say anything! Just like you said about the lady in the mall. I love your better be a whole lot nicer cause Karma's a b*tch! LOL Oh. And I really like your statement on my blog about I should have asked Dell to throw in a little something. Now why didn't I think of that? You are brilliant, my friend!!

Anonymous said...

The way the world is today, I am grateful if someone else is concerned for my children's welfare if I'm not in the immediate vicinity. I am a very careful mom, but it's nice to know others look out for them also. However, there are times when it's not appropriate. Once I was driving out of the grocery store parking lot with my 12 year old daughter in the front seat (buckled up) next to me. A very uptight supermom neighbor ran into my husband at work later that day and said "I saw your wife today with your daughter in the front passenter seat of your car (a tahoe) ..isn't she young to be in the front?" My husband just laughed and said..uh, she's twelve. It's OK, really. I was flabbergasted. said...

Anthony: So true and yet so sad when we see how some are so impatient and intolerant of others' children. The good old days are over.

Zen: OH I hear ya! Living in Canada for so long, we so easily forget how nice it is to have our privacy, until we visit India, and have to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of questions by the Aunties and Grannies.

Claudia: You've pointed something out that I wanted to touch upon in this post. Yes bad things happened back then too, but it was never publicised, and so we feel the world is more dangerous today than it was a few decades ago.

Jude: Well said! The world has become so demanding that parents find it difficult to find quality time for their kids, what with working overtime or even two or three jobs. Here is where the government can step in to do something for the future generation.

Anon: No there is nothing one can do. I've seen this sort of thing many times in Bermuda, and have been forced to turn away because as an expat you're expected to mind your own business and not have to correct a local, no matter what. We all know how easy it is to get booted off the island dare we cross the line.

BermudaBluez: I am a firm believer in Karma is a bi*ch. She can call to collect at any time!
Gracias. I hope your laptop issues are resovled.

Anon: That's being NOSY & OVERBEARING is what that is. Oh the nerve. At least your kid has her seatbelt on, unlike the kid in my previous post.

Mike said...

One of the things we love love LOVE about our suburban neighborhood is that our neighbors/friends who have kids near the ages of ours all seem to parent in similar styles.

So the neighborhood kids mostly know what to expect when they are off playing at some other kid's house.

Plus, when the need comes up, I can get onto a neighbor kid without fear that Mom or Dad is going to disprove of my method.

Mighty Afroditee said...

Hmprh...anyone see my Sonny out and doing what he is not 'posed to do, I always say cut his tail and send him home to me for another one. In today's day and age, we really need to get back to the village mentality, and know that we cannot do it alone. said...

Mike! Consider yourself lucky because that's the way it's supposed to be, and is unfortunately not anymore.

Mighty Afroditee: So true, we cannot do it alone. Send me a pic of your Sonny...who knows, I may have already met him.

Karthiga said...

i think how a child is raised has a lot to do with culture. So its fine if a village in India or Cayman wants to 'raise a child', because people in that village are pretty much of the same culture, and therefore have similiar values when it comes to parenting. However, in countries like Canada, U.S, and other Western countries, people have different cultural backgrounds, and therefore you might have oppossite ideas of parenting. So, depending on what country I live in, would determine if my kid has a village of 'godparents' or not.