It takes a village


I was reading Masanda Peters’ column about children and where you can and can’t take them.  This started me thinking about how much society has changed and the culture I grew up in.

I grew up in an extended family set up, where everybody lived in the same house, or nearby and everyone met up often. Children were everywhere.  I grew up in a pack of kids.  Running around, playing, screaming doing things we should not have, but generally well behaved.  We all turned out fine and seem to be well adjusted people.  However, we don’t live in the same house anymore, or any kind of extended family set up.  I personally live far away from everyone so we do not have any family in the same province and it is just us three.

If we are invited to something where no kids are allowed, we don’t go.  We have no family near to baby sit free and paid babysitting is a little beyond our budget at this point in time.  We now tend to only visit with people with other children or childless people who are tolerant enough of our little one.  We cannot go to weddings if there is a no children policy (which most seem to have these days).  We just don’t go out.  Cinemas are not even on our list.  We watch DVD’s or whatever is on TV.  We don’t often go to restaurants, but if we do, we stick with family restaurants where kids are tolerated.  We keep our little one at our table and we ensure he is not throwing things or pulling on other patrons.

Back to weddings etc.  Again I grew up in a culture where everyone was invited to a wedding.  It was a huge event where everyone came to celebrate and pitched into help.  Kids have always been welcome and at a wedding they start lunch early and the kids are taken to eat first.  It worked well.  All the guests were able to attend. There were numerous people to help out with the kids so Mom and Dad could get a break and it is desirable to go for this reason.  Granted there were no fussy table settings. There were flowers and thank you notes with sweeties, or some such and lunch and salad and pudding.  Tea afterward for close family at the house of the hosts. Kids were happily accommodated at all these venues.

Funerals too have kids and they are generally well behaved too. 

I think society has changed a lot.  Kids were acceptable everywhere and they were taught what appropriate behaviour is.  It was accepted without saying, that if you had kids, they were part of any invite.  Also, everyone pitches in to help. “it takes a village to raise a child”

There were no play areas attached to restaurants.  You went out to dinner; you sat at the table and ate.  Dinner was dinner and play time was playtime.  They did not happen at the same time, unless it was an occasion like a birthday party, where it was acceptable to run around and scream.  Again, however, you sat down to eat.  You washed up and sat at the table and ate when you were supposed to. 

I seem to have lost where I was going with this post….I think I am trying to say that society seems to have become intolerant of children and don’t realise there was a time when children were universally considered our wealth and precious gems.


5 responses »

  1. I agree completely. I think some of this is due to the lack of discipline in children these days. Like you say, we sat down and ate and behaved when we were in a setting that required it. These days I often see kids running around like hooligans, screaming and bothering others unnecessarily. I would have been given a hiding if I behaved like that!

  2. I completely agree with you that a child needs to go everywhere and be taught how to act in different social environments.

    It is also very important that a child has more than one role model. I always say that I’m responsible for her physical health and her mental growth but my friends need to teach her how to do make-up and nails. Ouma teaches her unconditional love, Daddy teaches her how a man should treat a woman etc etc etc.

    We do need our villages back.

  3. Agreed… children used to be tolerated everywhere and now they’re considered a nuisance. We’re attending my sister-in-law’s wedding in March and the invitation stipulates no children, but she is insisting that Caleb attends… how will the other people feel? no thanks, I’m not up for that kind of animosity. I’d rather do what the invitation says and leave Caleb with my mom for the night.

  4. I agree with you- it can feel lonely sometimes to miss out on things, but I always tell friends that I’m parenting if I can’t make it to an event. I’d hardly ever get a babysitter. It also depends on the kids- some children are very well-behaved, while others have no boundaries in social situations around adults. That scares child-free people. Politeness and manners would get kids into far more places… That said, it’s not ok to be intolerant- after all, we were all kids once, and should remember that kids aren’t all perfectly behaved.

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