Monday, January 28, 2013

Creating Our Village

My husband recently read a Newsweek article that proposed hunter-gatherer societies are good models for best practices in child-rearing. One of the strengths of these societies is the wealth of allo-parents, adults other than a child's parents who are actively involved in raising the child. A child raised by a village is likely to have better social skills and the confidence that comes from a variety of supportive relationships.

My children are not growing up in a tribal village. They don't even live in a small town where most people know each other. How can I provide them with a community like that? For us, the answer is church. At a typical Sunday, Peter is greeted by ten to fifteen adults or older kids before Mass begins. These are not formal greeters, just people who know us and like to say hello to him. They are in activities with us or just happen to sit near us. They are all a willing part of our community.

Four of our deacons during Habitat for Humanity

When Mass is over, Peter often roams the church with other children. Until we need to find him to bring him home, it's not uncommon for neither my husband nor I to know where he is. We know the older kids (3rd grade and up) will keep an eye on him and there are many adults available to intervene if needed. I love being part of this community. I'm especially grateful for Peter's hero who often sits with us during Mass. It's not a guarantee for good behavior, but I've noticed Peter is much easier to keep calm and happy when Mr. Payne is with us! (My husband is on the altar with worship team, so having another adult is very helpful, especially now with Anne. Two girls from youth group have volunteered to sit with us, too, when I need help.)

I realize the relationships with people at church are not close enough to describe them as allo-parents. I think it's a good start, though. Through this village, my children learn to socialize, to be responsible, and realize that they are valued. I am blessed to be a part of this parish community.


  1. Honestly, I think that the parish community is more blessed to have you guys a part of it.

    1. Thank you. (And the cookies were delicious, thanks for delivering them!)