My grandfather used to tell me stories about being raised in Brooklyn, NY. He was raised in an Italian neighborhood and you couldn't get away with ANYTHING! Why, you ask? Well that was because you either lived in a multi-family home with your extended family, lived in the same apartment building as your extended family, lived on the same street as your family or everyone in the neighborhood knew your family. There was always a watchful eye over you!
At some point, our grandparents and parents decided to move away from the city lifestyle and move to the burbs' where you didn't live as close to your extended family any more. Families started to move away to different states and we became more reliant upon the people in our community. As a child growing up in the 80's, I always knew there was a watchful eye over me. I didn't live anywhere near my extended family as my mom was a transplant from MA and my dad’s family lived 45 minutes away. My mom was one of the only full time working moms in my neighborhood but all of the moms watched over us. See back in the day we still went out in the morning and came home in the early evening. We may have felt like we were roaming the neighborhood but I can assure you that we were always being watched. How do I know this? Well, if we did something stupid we were caught immediately and punished accordingly.
I think our generation is where we have seen the biggest shift in the family and neighborhood dynamic. I remember searching for our second home and my husband and I kept saying we were looking for a neighborhood where the kids play in the street and everyone hangs out together and our real estate agent told us, "That doesn't exist anymore!" What a sad reality that was!
Why? Why have we moved so far away from this? Now, more than ever, with so many moms in the work force we need help from our extended families, we need help from the neighborhood moms who do stay home but this just isn't the way our society works anymore. Most of us moms are over worked, over planned and over stressed and one of the main sources of this stress is not having someone to help out with our littles. Someone to help pick them up from the bus, someone to help out when they are sick, someone to just help on a consistent basis!
Two generations ago, families who lived together (or in close proximity) would get together for dinners, they would share the responsibilities of watching the children, they would help each other out. When our parents raised us the neighborhood moms would pitch in and help out. They would get together and bond (while having a few drinks) and let the kids play together so they didn't feel so lonely and isolated during the day. They worked together as a community to help raise the next generation. Our generation is full of mom shamers who would rather see you fall flat on your face than lend a helping hand. What is it that has changed so much and defined us as a society?
There are still cultures who do live with their extended families and do share the responsibilities of raising their families. There are still countries where this is held in high regard. Why, in America are we not the same way? It truly does take a village to raise a child....so where has our village gone?