View of the moon rising over our campsite
“It takes a village to raise a child” – people often regurgitate that quote without really realizing just how true it is (although I personally prefer Christine Moers' quote "It takes a village to keep a special needs parent from jumping off the roof"). People have always been nomadic, but they used to travel in groups and everybody would help raising the children. The trend these days is for families to split apart with people moving in all different directions. Which is great, until you have the over-stressed parent who has to work because the family needs the income and he/she can’t adequately care for her child. Since the family is nowhere nearby, they can’t help out and the child potentially misses out on critical bonding / care which is needed during the early years. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful caretakers out there, and many people ARE capable of raising a happy/healthy/well adjusted child even with both parents working and no family around. But there will always be those children that, for whatever reason, simply don’t get the attention they need to develop those brain connections. This doesn’t even have to be work related – it could be the stay at home mother with post-natal depression, or a single father with severe emotional or mental issues, or any other of a number of reasons the baby doesn’t get enough bonding time.
Please don’t take this as bashing women who work, or stay-at-home dads, or anything else of the kind. Every family situation is different and people do what works for them – unfortunately, there are those who have to do what they have to do, and even with the best intentions, their children can suffer for it.
So what is the answer? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers (sometimes I feel like I don’t have any answers at all!). However, it does strike me as coincidental(?) that as The Family becomes more fractured and mobile in our society, the incidences of child mental health issues is on the rise. I just sometimes wonder if our “progress” is really that or just the opposite….