It Takes A Village…

There is a well-known saying that it takes a village to raise a child. The reason is apparently that other villagers are supposed to help both discipline and advise and assist the child. After all, if it is to become a part of the community, the community needs to help with that integration.

If that is true, what happens when cultural shifts dictate that the child is now the property exclusively of its parents? These will be most intent on integrating it with themselves, whatever they may say about the community, which they have now denied a voice. The child will hear their words about not doing bad things to the villagers, but will see the parents’ reactions of narcissistic outrage whenever villagers venture to protest about what it has done to them. It will learn that if the parents are satisfied, nothing else matters.

Then the next shift dictates that the child is the property of the mother alone. Where the father used to pay attention to the opinion of the village, the mother is single-minded in her conviction that she alone can perceive, judge and discipline, or fail to discipline. Further that any interference is an intolerable insult to her mother-love, which has to be infallible, because she feels it to be. And is afraid of the sense of valuelessness that hangs over her were it ever to be demonstrated that her mother-love is not infallible after all. In comparison with the self-esteem at stake here, the actual behaviour of the child in the village is of very little importance.

Of the many ways to read human history, one more might be the struggle over child-raising between the mother and the community. Much of our recent literature has painted the community as the bad guy, intent on apparently motiveless repression and spiritual murder. But perhaps this is merely a move in the game.

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 09:26 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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