The Village, The Family

Hillary Clinton has famously quoted a supposed African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Some homeschool groups and others have jumped on this, adding their own twist, “I have seen the village.  We choose to homeschool.”  Both quotes irritate me.  The former because it seems to fly in the face of my understanding of how the Bible describes my personal responsibility to my family.  The latter because of its disrespectful, condemning tone and sentiment.  Our boys began their school-aged years in a public school setting, yet now we are in our second year of homeschooling, and it looks like we might be here awhile.  Do I look down on families opting for public education?  No.  We were there once.  By and large, it seemed a positive experience.  Currently, the homeschool option just seems the best fit for us.  While the Bible charges my husband and me to train our children in matters of faith,  (Deuteronomy 6) I seriously doubt it has any commandments regarding English grammar or multiplying fractions.  We have just decided to tackle these lessons around the kitchen table, as well.

And yet, this post is by no means intended to be about homeschooling vs. public education.  Instead, I want to reflect on who is raising our children, whether we homeschool, send them to public, private or charter schools.

Clinton wants us to look to the ” village,” except  we don’t have a village.  We have a family.  I am often amazed at God’s design for the church.  While our love for Christ is to be lived out in the mundaneness of daily routines, and in our compassion for others, we need a sense of community.  We need a comfortable and secure place to relax.  We need others looking out for our best interests.  We need a spiritual family full of love, care and positive examples.  And He has provided one for us.  One we very much depend on.

We do not necessarily need others teaching our children manners, morals, or even Bible stories.  Our responsibility as parents is clearly written in scripture.

Never forget these commands that I am giving you today.  Teach them to your children.  Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working…Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7,9

However, for my children there is great value in someone they know and respect reiterating the same values and ideals that mom and dad try to teach them.  There is value in pointing someone to Jesus.  They need encouragement.  They miss grandparents being closer.  They need to be prodded and goaded and challenged.  They need to feel unconditional love and support.  It is particularly poignant if that encouragement comes from an unexpected source.  Not a call from the Bible class teacher, but a hug from a church elder.  Not a hello from a peer, but a high-five from one of the teens.

Unfortunately, there is no photo with this post, but I have a thousand in my mind’s eye: showing up unexpectedly for a baseball game, getting down on one knee to listen to the rambling of a toddler, an invitation to come over and play, an offer for babysitting, remembering a personal accomplishment.  You know who you are.  These are things a mom appreciates.

Who is raising A, S and G?  By the grace of God, my husband and I are.  And by the grace and love of some amazing people in his church, we are thankful for their help.  I honestly don’t know if it takes a village, but we do have a family working on it.