Does it take a village to raise a child?

There is an old African proverb which states: “It takes a village to raise a child”. It certainly is quite an appealing image of a child’s hungry mind being fed by the smorgasbord of different experts and perspectives on offer in the larger community in which they live. Surely no child cooped up in the one mud hut, with the one set of parents, could develop to maturity and adult understanding.
Our society seems to have whole-heartedly embraced this parenting technique. We encourage our kids to go out and explore the world they live in. We sign them up to the best schools money can buy, that offer the greatest range of subjects. We sign our kids up to violin, karate, tap, macramé, gymnastics and Kumon lessons. We want to keep their ‘options open’. We buy them the latest technology so they can be up-to-date and plugged in to our global village. And we sleep easy at night knowing that the internet is growing their brains at the rate of 50 kilobytes a second.  We don’t want them to miss out on the full village experience. We would hate to stunt their development and narrow their opportunities for success.
But what does it really take to raise a child?
The Bible’s emphasis on parenting is not the village but the family. It lays the responsibility of parenting at… the parent’s feet. Paul speaks to Christian parents of the need to bring our children up ‘in the training and instruction of the Lord’. (Ephesians 6:4)
To live in our global village what our kids desperately need are deep-rooted principles instilled by parents who lovingly and sacrificially teach them the word of God, showing them how it informs life’s journey. How else can they not get deceived, seduced or just plain swamped by the host of options the village offers them?
The final word must go to a proverb from the Bible: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Cameron Griffiths


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