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.