Parenthood or the Village

Much has been written over the last couple of months, and much has been said and debated concerning the responsibility of parenthood and parenting the children in our country. A movement afloat today suggests parenting and parenthood is the responsibility of a "global village." Some believe that it takes a village to raise a child. It is also suggested that the responsibility lies with everyone concerned and that moms and dads alone just cannot and should not do the parenting by themselves. There is a belief that we need collectively to parent all the children throughout our country and need collectively to share the responsibilities of parenthood.

This suggestion to me, at best, seems irresponsible and, at worst, seems to socialize parenting. The truth of the matter is, when it becomes everyone’s responsibility it becomes no one’s responsibility.  Therefore, the task does not get accomplished. Whether we are talking about health care, national economics, or parenting, the truth of the matter is, group responsibility almost never works. The idea of the village raising the children (rather than mom and dad) sounds frightfully close to the words of Mao Tse Tung during the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949.

To raise a child under the very best of circumstances is always difficult, is always challenging and success is never guaranteed. Still, it does not take a village, it takes a mom and a dad who work their hardest, try their hardest, expend tremendous amounts of energy, talent, wisdom, time and exasperation to raise a child today as it did for all the past generations. We have to abandon the notion that moms and dads cannot raise nor should they raise their children alone. We have to get away from the idea that the global village or big government is where this task should be done. From the crowd that clamors the loudest for individual rights, they grow curiously silent when the topic turns to individual responsibility.

We never have a guarantee as to parenting and we never know for sure if our children are going to turn out the way we plan and pray. Nevertheless, we do know that we have to do it ourselves. It is our right, but more importantly it is our responsibility. We should know that the concept of the entire community and federal government helping us raise our children somehow, is an incorrect premise from the very beginning. The village as a parent is an outgrowth of the theory that government should take care of us from the womb to the tomb. From this thought extends that government should also take care of all our parental responsibility. No longer are schools responsible for just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now, others demand the issues of sex education, AIDS awareness, and social engineering be added to a teacher’s already over booked work load.

Everyone needs to realize that if we want less government and less government control, if we want lower taxes, if we want the juvenile justice system to succeed and if we want our children to obey the law, all of this begins at home with the family . . . with moms and dads. It begins with the very people who sired and raised the children, not the nameless, blameless, faceless collective communities or bureaucracy. No one except moms and dads are the best at reading to, praying with, and playing pitch and catch with their children.

There is no question in my mind that there are troubled youth today. The crime rate is obviously rising among the youth and the level of violence and violent crime involving our youth is escalating at an enormous rate. However, government or the global village is not going to solve this . . . only moms and dads who love, care, discipline and reward their children can get this task done. I know the saying, "whatever goes around comes around." I believe that coming back around the circle is the idea that moms and dads raise children . . . not a village. On task, involved, exhaustive parenting is not the cure-all to ward off excessive governmental collectivism of parental authority, but it is a great place to start. We need more of June and Ward and less of Big Brother.

Andrew W. Coy
Lee County Board of County Commissioners
February 5, 1996