Nairobi News

GeneralLifeMust Read

It takes a village: Bring back the days of communal child raising

By Winnie Mabel November 24th, 2023 3 min read

“It takes a village to raise a child”- a popular saying across many cultures around the world. Back in the day, communities were close knit and a sense of trust thrived. Parents would go about their day trusting that their children would fare well because the community was also looking out for them. They had an understanding that mild punishment was to be meted out if a child was found doing something they shouldn’t have been doing before the matter was escalated to the parents.

Back then, neighborhood bonds were tight. The spirit of community was alive and this allowed families to undertake secondary parenting roles if their friends’ or neighbors’ kids visited their homes to play- they could be trusted to feed them on the understanding their children would also be fed when they went to another house, they could be trusted to see to it that no harm came to the neighborhood kids and not just mind about their own children- basically, the community adults became a natural extension of the parents in taking care of kids.

But today, a new age of modernism, hedonism, technology and capitalism, the “village” no longer exists. And even if it does, it rarely goes beyond one other household. Modern day society with all its ills made sure the village crumbled.

Families no longer trust each other with their children especially if there are known manipulators and abusers around, others tend to financially take advantage of the “village” to raise their children while they do not spend anything, there is insecurity from all corners resulting in assaults, kidnapping and violence, some people willfully abandon their children knowing there is someone who will have mercy on them and take them in for a few hours.

What’s even worse is that jealousy continues to ruin this village. Families- siblings even- are now in competition to outdo each other, and taking care of their nieces and nephews becomes considered a task or being taken advantage. No one want to help out anymore. We no longer have ujamaa unless the older generations step in and align things.

And this gap has created a gap where our kids are slipping through our hands. We end up raising addicts, criminals, prostitutes, con artists and kids displaying various ills because “that is not my child, why should I care?” We spared the rod on someone else’s child and they will come back to bite society.

If we want to reduce or completely stop the emergence of such characters and behaviors in the community, the “village” must reconvene and guide everyone regardless of blood ties. The village must disregard their high walls and electric fences that surround their homes and look out for the neighborhood children.

The village must backtrack and pick some activities of old to nurture well-rounded and disciplined kids in the modern age. We must establish programs and initiatives that will prioritize their development, education and opportunities for mentorship. We must also allow for a supportive environment to exist where parents, educators, and community leaders collaborate to address challenges and celebrate achievements contributes to a holistic approach in raising children without some parents taking offense and issuing threats on anyone else watching their kids.

Law enforcement must also strive to end the ills in society that force parents to put up walls- physical and imaginary- and preventing their children from freely interacting with other people. Only then will parents stop sending their kids out to play and assigning their nannies and house managers to watch over them like hawks.

Also read: Wetangula supports Sharawi republic independence despite Ruto opposition