Creating a Positive Global Parenting Village

It takes a village to raise a child.

This afternoon I finished writing an article about the importance of having a parenting village.  In the article I provided links showing clear evidence that having a village to rely on can reduce stress levels in parents, can improve birth outcomes for expectant parents, and actually decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression.  Then I read the following post on Facebook who was a victim of “drive by judging”.

Just took 3 children to swim practice at 8 am, the playground and then to get oil changed then walked to the mall to purchase the first clothing item for myself that wasn’t from Target in two years because we are going to a wedding and wanted to not look like a tired and old mom in Target clothes, frantically tried things on in only one store because they wouldn’t last long, then took them to the fancy fragile and expensive section of Macy’s and said probably 54 times, please don’t touch, left with wedding gift, fed all three, and herded them and cajoled them to walk back to receive finished car. In the parking lot I had a literally two minute phone conversation with my husband about coordinating evening activities, husband who I have seen 20 minutes a day while he’s on night shifts, then a car passed by and a woman rolled down her window to yell at me “Get off the phone and take care of your kid!” I came home and cried in the closet. All three children were safe, walking to the side with me and crossing a road with a speed limit of 19 and no traffic as I watched for cars. It was a drive by judging. I know I don’t have the thickest skin but someone hurling criticism about my parenting from a passing car still stings a bit. Ugh. I’m going to make it a point to encourage other moms today to make up for this judge and run woman who is still on the loose! – posted to Facebook by a mom

This mom's village stepped up on Facebook and provided support. Support comes in all forms - a post, a smile, a note, an email, a look.

This mom’s village stepped up on Facebook and provided support. Support comes in all forms – a post, a smile, a note, an email, a look. Who have you supported today?

If there is documented evidence on the importance of a village why must we, as parents and human beings, continue to tear down other parents?  There are a slew of articles out there written by moms to moms criticizing choices they are making, telling them to be more involved or less involved in their child’s play, and the list goes on.  This article isn’t a criticism of those articles or of the parents who have criticized others in the past.  This article is asking everyone to forgive themselves and others for passing judgment in the past and to make the commitment to do better in the future.

Know better, do better. 

Know that your words are being heard.  They are being heard by their intended recipient, by everyone around the recipient, and by the recipient’s support system.  Know that your words have the strength to change a person’s day, week, or life for the better or for the worse.  Know that you do not know the whole story.

Now for the “do better” part.  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  Do offer encouragement when you see a parent struggling.  Do offer encouragement when you see a parent doing an awesome job.  Do remember that you have bad days too.  Do remember that you do not know the whole story.

We need a village to help raise our children.  Sometimes that village is simply a stranger walking by and smiling at a parent who is having a rough day, has just yelled at his or her child, or maybe ignored the child’s request while talking on the phone. Together We Can Chalk Illustration

Join me in building a global village where we support one another instead of tearing each other down.  Everyone needs a village.  Be that village for someone today.

Colorful  Solidarity Hand Tree