It Takes a Village and It’s Not Just a Cliché

Raising a child is a monumental task for any parent—whether it’s the year 1, the 1400’s, or 2018. That’s why the concept of “the village” has remained so crucial to child rearing.

The Perks and the Pitfalls

There’s no specific definition of the people in “the village” other than they generally include family, friends, and neighbors, give or take a few. Even before you have children—when you’re pregnant—your people are there to help, give advice, and also, annoy you.

But that’s the beauty of a community-based support system. Everyone needs a hand now and then. And, we also grow and feel a sense of fulfillment when we’re the helper. It’s a give-and-take, information-sharing, and learning/teaching system; Cultivating that philosophy can help you, your children, and your family feel secure—especially in times of parenting dire straits.

How to Build Your Own Village

You may really like your existing biological or married-into family. And they may live nearby. And they may be willing to lend some advice, a hand, some babysitting, and some money. But that’s a lot of some “maybes.”

Most Americans aren’t fortunate enough to check “yes” to all (or even one) of the boxes above. We’re a transient society for the most part, and, face it, family as it was celebrated in the old country, just doesn’t exist here anymore that often. That’s why it’s necessary for young parents to cultivate their own village within their large circle of circumstance.

When They’re Babies…

If mom or dad is fortunate enough not to have to go into the office when a baby is young, it’s an ideal time to make new tribal friends. “Mommy and Me”–type classes are a great way to meet new parents like yourselves. Local parks, zoos, and shopping centers are always full with parents looking for ways to occupy their little ones outside the home. These are ideal environments to meet like-minded peers.

If you’re going to work, many coworkers will share the experience of having their children in daycare, too. It’s a great starting-off conversation point.

Don’t be afraid to chat about your lack of: sleep, healthy meals, sex, or even an adult conversation. Everyone with an infant or toddler is in the same playpen.

When They’re in Primary School…

Volunteering is an awesome way to meet other parents and your kids’ peers. Go to all the meetings, presentations, and shows, if your schedule allows. You’ll find you run into the same adults over and over. Some you will feel an affinity with—others you wished you never met. Either way, they’re part of your extraneous village, and you need to be respectful and grateful to have them aboard.

After-school activities are also another way to collect more members into your kinship. Someone’s always got to divvy up snack-duty, cleanup, or keep score.

By Middle School…

If you haven’t moved locations too often when the kids were really young, by middle school, you should have at least a foot (if not a strong standing) within a workable, helpful village.

By this point, you can trust other parents to drive your kid home from school or a birthday party. You, too, can be expected help other families when their kids need rides or food, or a place to stay until another working parent finally gets home after dark.

By High School…

At this point, it becomes a lot more serious. Sex, alcohol, drugs, impulsivity and other teenage perilous behaviors come into play during this stage of parenting. This is where your village needs to be fortuitous and candid.

If anyone in your village thinks their kid isn’t partaking in (or at least witness to) any of the above, it may be time to offer them a neighborly wake-up call.

No one likes snoops or snitches. But when it comes to your child’s welfare, maybe that’s what a villager’s job is when your kid is a teen. Letting another parent gently know that their child was seen doing  (fill in the blank), can cause embarrassment and defensiveness. But if the information ultimately helps the child, the parent, or the family overall, perhaps your village duty has been accomplished admirably.

Village, People!

However you decide to parent and whatever obstacles have led to hardships in your parenting arena, know that out there, somewhere, there is a village ready to embrace you and yours.

Calm The Mind
Calm The Mind

2 Main Reasons Why Females Don’t Have Healthy Body Image

Don’t have the healthiest body image? It’s not surprising—and there are several reasons why.  Below, we explore 2 different causes and how we can begin to overcome these negative perceptions.

When It Begins

Our perception of how we physically appear to others begins early in childhood. We continue to form perceptions of how attractive we are (or aren’t) as we graduate from childhood into adolescence. This self-appreciation or self-criticism continues to develop on through to adulthood. Feedback we get from peers, family, and the media all effect how we eventually see ourselves.

1) The Media

Perhaps one of the most pervasive reasons why healthy body image is distorted is because of the media. Tweens and teens are obsessed with social media, which flaunts perfectly composed selfies. Comments are quickly posted either praising or shaming the poser’s “attractiveness.” Girls compare themselves to others in bikinis, mini skirts, and prom dresses.

Actress Jennifer Aniston recently published an essay in the Huffington Post on this very issue. In her disgust with continual tabloid fabrications about her body, she decided to speak out. She explained that she’s, “…fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.”

Little girls and young women see distorted photographs of otherwise realistic-looking females. The subjects are airbrushed to appear blemish-free, small-waisted, and have perfectly sized, symmetrical breasts. The message is sent early on that if they don’t look like that, they’re not attractive. As Anniston adds, “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.”

2) Your Family

A recent study out of Cornell University depicts interesting results about female body image. Over 500 women between the ages of 20 and 35 were involved in the research. They were asked to recall if their parents discussed their weight when they were growing up. They discovered that parents who commented on their daughters’ weight caused negative perceptions for the females later in life.

As it turns out, weight-related remarks are damaging in two ways. One is that the girls can grow up to have an unhealthy, high BMI. That category was 27 percent more likely to recall their parents talking about their weight. The other bad effect revealed was that even those women who now have a healthy BMI, still have a negative self-image. As parents, better to stay quiet and model by making healthy food choices. Make the focus about health rather than weight.

Looking Within

Sometimes what we see in the mirror isn’t satisfying. It shouldn’t be that way. It’s important as women, we learn to love ourselves inside and out. Acknowledging your feelings and exploring their origin can help you melt away the negative thinking patterns. Dancing, moving, and yoga can help you rediscover the beautiful you. Believe it and you’ll be it.

Check out www.GetThrive.com for more articles about positive self-image and beauty.