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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!


There is a saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Maybe this Thanksgiving season is the time to think about that saying. It applies to America today more than at any other time in history. The whole nation needs to be concerned about our children. They are the hope for the future.

Parents need to be given the message that they are not alone in the most important enterprise of raising children. Today’s parents can not do it alone. It requires a community effort. Parents must learn that it is okay to ask for help and help should be there when they ask. Some stay-at-home mothers hesitate to ask for help because they feel that is a sign of failure. They feel they should be doing a better job because they are at home all day. They feel that their children should be perfect or if not perfect at least better than the children who are sent to day care by working parents. They hesitate to admit that they need help and as a result do not reach out.

Parents who go to work, on the other hand, find it easier to ask for help. They also consider that the stay-at-home mothers have an easier job than they do and feel it is okay to make demands on them. They do not hesitate to put these parents’ names for school to call in an emergencies. They tend to send their children to stay-at-home mother’s houses to play without reciprocating by inviting these mothers’ children to their houses. All parents, which includes stay-home parents, need to understand that everybody needs help in raising children and it is a community effort. Parents need to feel that there is somebody who who is ready to help in the community if they reach out.

Many women are raising their children by themselves. Today almost thirty percent of all births are to unmarried women. This rate increases one percent each year. Many of these mothers do not have the emotional support, the expertise or the financial backing to raise their children to become healthy, contributing, responsible adults. Our country needs its citizens to be contributors.

While we might feel exasperation and perhaps a certain lack of sympathy for the unmarried teenage mother, we need to show compassion for the children and to do everything we can so that they will not grow up in poverty. Children reared in poverty are in greater danger of becoming school dropouts, or drug users, or engaging in violence toward their families and others. They are in danger of growing up unhealthy if their parents fail to get them the proper immunizations, hearing and eye examinations and other preventative health care. Since their number is increasing, we need to provide more services for the children. The community needs to do something and to reach out before these children become of school age. Some children only receive help when they come to school and immunizations and other health requirements are enforced. That is too late for our children. A great deal of damage may have been done which could have been prevented by a earlier outpouring of community effort and support.

This Thanksgiving let us remember the children and all of their parents who need help. All parents need to feel that it is not a sign of failure to ask for help, rather it is a sign of strength. The job is too lonely and impossible without help and the community needs to be ready and to respond if we hope to survive as a nation.

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Thanksgiving

  1. Sandra says:

    Wow, finally, someone who understands how we all need help. I am a stay-at-home-mom and chose to be. There are financial sacrifices to be made, but we save a lot on home cooked, fresh, and healthy meals, and not an extensive wardrobe for mom. But I always said what’s the point of having children if you have to pay someone else to raise them? (Of course, not everyone thinks the same).

    But here I am, definitely the person everyone asks to keep the working parents’ kids without any reciprocation. I have worked full-time on fixed-term contracts and I have stayed at home and I can attest to the fact that going to work is a LOT easier job than staying home. With a profession, most of the time, you know what your hours are, even if 10 hours/day. Stay-at-home mom is easily a 12 hour day mixed with both physical and emotional demands. It is intellectually non-stimulating, except for the science behind child development and watching and learning how humans learn and acquire life’s milestones.

    Anyway, my point is that it is so frustrating that the attitude towards stay-at-home-moms is so undervalued. I am living outside of the USA (in France), without my family, and my husband’s parents (grandparents) are too elderly to help so there are no cousins, aunts, or uncles, and it is really a lot for even a normal couple to bear. I wish there were more information on couples raising children without any help from family, or in an isolated environment. Sure, we have friends, but the help from friends can only go so far. And here in France, only state-run daycares are available and are often overflowing, leaving parents years on a waiting list. Still, a day care isn’t the same loving bond that only families can provide.

    I guess I am just happy with your article and understanding and appreciate the attention you’ve afforded it.

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