Lest you think I am in any kind of agreement with Hillary Clinton on this subject, I am not. A more accurate rephrasing of Mrs. Clinton's position would be that it takes a state to raise a child. And I'll never buy that.
The village, however, is another matter. Now that Big Brother is 18 and getting all set for his high-school graduation and enrollment at LaSalle University, I've been reflecting upon everything that the village has done, and meant, for him--and for me as his mother.
In our world, the village (outside our own immediate and extended families) is composed of three parts: church, school, and Scouts. In no case did we abdicate our parental responsibility and leave church, school, and Scouts to pick up the pieces. But church, school, and Scouts influenced our son, and our parenting, in many ways. All three were truly part of his growing up.
At church, Big Brother learned about sacrifice and about ministry. He grew up watching me particpate in music ministry; he was an altar server during his middle-school years, and in the past year he's gotten quite involved in music ministry himself. He plays in the folk group at our church, in the contemporary group at another church (with his friends) and at school. He'll continue that next year. He's gone from a cautious beginner at guitar to being unafraid to tote that same guitar, as well as a mandolin and a harmonica, to church--and he's learning as he goes. All of this would not be possible without the acceptance and welcoming spirit of the adults in our folk group. They know that you have to start somewhere. They know that teens are the future of the Church. So they make sure to nurture the gifts of any teen who wants to sing or play with us.
Big Brother is completing his thirteenth year at Catholic school. He's had more than his share of outstanding teachers who are there for the love of it--they're certainly not there for the salary! He's been challenged and inspired, and he's definitely the better for it. He's part of a school community in which the principal will hear of a kindness a student has done for a teacher or staff member--and take the time to send that student a handwritten thank-you note.
At Scouts, from the time he was a first-grader in that Tiger-Scout t-shirt right up until he earned his Eagle Scout rank, he has been challenged to live up to the high ideals of Scouting:
A Scout is trustworty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
He's encountered many committed leaders whose own sons are long done with Scouting--but who give up several hours each week (and one weekend a month for camping) to pass along these ideals to the next generation of boys.
Without this village, our son would not be where he is today--and neither would we, because his village is our village. We are thankful to be part of it--and hope that we can be a part of someone else's village as well.