It Takes a Village to Raise a Grandchild

By Lily Prellezo

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. When my husband and I were raising our two daughters, I strongly believe it was a mother and father, a family, that was all one needed to raise children. Being one of six siblings, and number thirty-four of fifty-three first cousins, my family was larger than the average village anyway. Who else could my daughters possibly need?

After ten years of infertility treatments, we finally adopted two beautiful girls. I literally did not want to let them go, so I decided to homeschool for the early years. My father came over every morning and swam with his favorite grandchildren; my mother babysat while I ran errands and went back to school. I felt my family was more than enough to raise these children.

Too often as a young mother, I retreated from asking anyone outside the family nucleus for decision-making suggestions on schools, sleep-overs, after-school activities, dance parties, and such. I felt that parents and the family were the only backups for children.

Not so in a village. It was not until I became a grandmother helping to raise my grandsons that I recognized the insight of it taking a village. Whereas before I shied away from asking for help (how could a mother not be enough, know enough?), now I craved community and fellowship–the village infrastructure.

My mother (the high priestess of my village) is still around, but at 86, she cannot physically help me raise two toddlers. While nannies come and go, the daughters of friends babysit. The prayer warriors in my village lift up to the heavens petitions for my grandsons and their parents. My closest friends are the wise women in my village, whose empty nests make room for my overcrowded one, whose strong shoulders reserve a special place for my sometime-tears. The medicine men in my village are not only the pediatricians who give extra stickers and lollipops to my grandsons because they are “special,” but also the counselors and support groups and professionals who help my husband and I with child-rearing questions that have very different answers from a quarter century ago. The holy men and women in my village make allowances for my grandchildren, attending to my grandsons’ spiritual needs without requiring the parents to return to the fold. My village even includes government-sponsored programs that extend to grandchildren like mine who are being raised by their grandparents.

I count on a community of wise women, healers, young hands and old, all friends indeed, in addition to my steadfast family. I wish this for all of you grandparents helping to raise your grandchildren.

Who’s in your village?

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