It does take a village to raise a child, but American parents do not understand this saying right. They want to eat their cake and have it too. They gladly accept privileges granted by the society, like child-related tax breaks and public schools, but they reject societal corrections of their parental failures. In a real village, things do not work this way.
In a village, or, in other words, in a participating society, parents cannot have privileges without having duties or trade-offs. In a village, parents get a lot of help and support from other villages, but they must live by the village’s standards. If they transgress them, they humbly accept and comply with the other villagers’ reprimands as well as apologize for their violations.
In a village, kids obey and respect adults. If they infringe on the adult’s rules, they are disciplined by any adult, be it a parent, an older child, or a relative, be it a complete stranger who just happens to catch the kid’s wrongdoing, or who is offended by it. Parents do not object to the discipline, and by no means get aggressive about it, but also apologize to the strangers for all the trouble. They know that other “villagers” are responsible, consistent, and do not discipline any kids for no reason.
American parents have a serious problem with both complying with the rules established by the society for everyone, and even a worse problem apologizing for their kids’ disrespectful behavior. The best example is the one of kids’ extreme rudeness in public places: Americans not only fail, or even totally refuse to keep the kids respectful, they also refuse to recognize a reason for apology, and become hostile towards any “villager” who gives them a well deserved and justified reprimand. For example, when someone brings a parent to order for allowing the unsanitary kid slobbering all over the fruit in a supermarket, the parent should respectfully apologize for its behavior and start teaching the kid respect and hygiene. There is no reason to get hostile: in a village, all villagers want all the best for your kid.
In a village, kids are often outside on their own, with no constant adult supervision. Adults may take a look occasionally, but not spend the whole time watching kids play. The condition is: they must play in a way that respects the neighbors. In case of serious problems, they may count on any member of the society for an intervention (for example: to inform the parent that something happened to the kid or to call an ambulance). That does not mean that people use their neighbors as free babysitters or servants. This behavior would be unacceptable. Other people step in as a courtesy, out of compassion or if a kid is offending them and depending on the case, offer assistance or discipline.
In a village, parents do not display any sign of entitlement just because they have kids. Any assistance from any “villager” is just his or her courtesy and favor, and even if showed often, it does not mean parents have a right to it. American parents clearly violate this village habit with their entitlement minded approach, raising their also entitlement minded, spoiled kids.
In a village, all members of the society act in a very consistent manner towards kids. They do not have any fads or “parenting styles” created by “experts” of doubtful credentials, and changing every time the wind blows. They know how to do it because they grew up in the same participating society. All of them: a grandfather of 8, a middle aged nun or a ten year old kid have a lot of experience in dealing with children because this is the way they have always lived in the village. They naturally assume disciplining or sometimes protecting children, whenever needed, the same way they naturally assume breathing air or eating food: they have been doing it all their life and it is their nature.
In America, parents have a serious problem. They expect the whole society to accommodate their whims, fads, and “parenting styles”, and their usurped “right” to be rude in public. They also belligerently question other people’s disciplining skills based on the single fact that the person does not have his or her own biological child, as if the mere act of reproduction had any impact on the ability to raise a respectful kid (actually, American parents are the best evidence of the contrary). In a real village-like, participating society, they would have to comply and apologize.
In a village, if taxpayers sponsor child-related facilities, the purpose of it is not to worship somebody’s kid. The purpose is to ensure progress, development, and respect in the society as a whole. In a village, public schools educate and teach, but also discipline the children and correct parental failures, if the young ones show signs of any. Parents respect teachers’ decisions because they know the school has the same goal as themselves: to raise respectful children into a respectful society. They do not undermine the teachers’ work and punish their kids if teachers report to them any misbehavior attempt that was curtailed at school. The same applies to public day care centers (in this case mostly in European societies) that are subsidized by the taxpayers. They are not treated as a low cost child storage, but rather as an extension of home, with consistent supervision, care, and discipline.
In kid-worshiping America, consistent raising of respectful children is sabotaged by helicopter parents blaming the teachers for giving their bratty kids well deserved reprimands for transgressions. Instead of cooperating with the school, these parents seriously harm their children by breaking away from the consistency provided by the village through the school.
In a village, kids learn to solve their own problems all by themselves. Adults are occupied with adult matters, like earning a living, and govern their kids’ behavior from some distance in order to give the children freedom to learn. They do not run after the kids all the time, everywhere, to overprotect their oversensitive snowflakes from what life around other kids may bring. Instead, they let the kids play, argue, and fight, and step in only if there is blood or broken bones. They can count on other villagers who occasionally take a look at the kids, and return the favor whenever an opportunity arises. These kids grow up to be very self-reliant, respectful, and their conflict solving abilities in workplaces are impressive.
Unfortunately, kid-obsessed American parents deprive their children of this valuable experience, thus, hurt their development. Their overprotected, overworshiped little dictators grow up to be incapable of solving conflicts, insecure and self-centered. None of these characteristics are useful in a “village”.
In a village, screaming is a sound of alarm, not fun. Children, from the youngest age, are trained not to make any unnecessary noise that would disrupt other people’s peace or offend them. They scream when something very serious happens, for example, an accident. Villagers know that they should run immediately to rescue the kid whenever they hear a scream. American parents fail terribly to teach their kids to keep respectfully quiet, especially in public places. In a village, both the parents and the kids would be brought to order for this.
In a village, the elderly enjoy well deserved respect. They are given priority and privileges resulting from life experience and wisdom, but also from declining energy and health. Kids, as younger and more energetic, must give up their seats for all adults, but for the elderly especially, and usually do it immediately without any additional requests from adults because they are raised to do so. They also run errands for their elderly relatives or neighbors, or help the lady from the fourth floor carry a heavy shopping bag to her apartment.
In kid-obsessed America, people seem to have a big problem with this village rule. Not only do entitled parents put their small kids on separate seats while adults are standing instead of holding them on their laps, they also take kids out of strollers and put them selfishly on separate seats. To make things worse, people give up their seats for school kids who have enough energy to jump like monkeys and yell outrageously with no reason and logically should have all the energy to stand still respectfully. It does not occur to the eight year old princes or princesses to give up their seats for the seniors. The parents fail to teach them, the schools fail to correct it, and other passengers fail to enforce it and discipline the ill-mannered kids. In a village, this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
It does take a village to raise a child but parents have to take the village as a package. It does not work if only the privileges that suit them are taken out of it.