As my own community shapes and shifts, I watch as my kids’ community changes and grows as well. This is not without effort. To create a true community for my kids’ is part of the mental work of raising kids who don’t just live within the compounds of what they inherit. The effort is to raise children who seek and yearn for greater depths of community. Kids who will turn into adults who ask questions and are aware and trusting of said community.
When I was a kid, I had three brothers and a sister who were my most immediate and my furthest sources of community. Though we had family, the everyday, which was just my mother and us, was how our community not only functioned, but survived. There were so many of us, we could in fact create a little village–sharing secrets, hardships, and triumphs. While I am thankful for that, it would be naïve to think that what I provide for my children as one person could give them all the tools necessary for their struggles and triumps. I felt the same in a two-parent household as well. I wonder when friends have a heterosexual, often white, two-parent household, how they expand their kids’ versions of community. How can we expand the efforts outside of what they see on their block and in their school—especially if these structures are not diverse nor inclusive?
Years ago, a friend who survived sexual assault told me to let River know she could always share with her what she couldn’t with me. While this friend isn’t around daily, I know River knows this still to be true. I know, there is a seed planted in her body that knows she can shout this friend’s name to me and I will call this friend. I won’t ask why.
Weeks ago, when something else happened with my kids, I called one of my best friends in the middle of a panic. She told me to just say, “I won’t be mad. I won’t be be mad. No matter what, I won’t be mad.” And this morning, The Conscious Kid shared a tweet that read, “My dad once wrote a note to us and put it in a drawer. The note said, ‘If you’re scared to tell me something, just bring me this note as a reminder that I’m here to support you. I won’t get mad; I will work with you on a solution.’”
Bell Hooks writes, “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” And I can’t stop thinking of this lately. Especially when I spent Sunday night being fed (once again) at friend’s house, drinking wine, wathching our kids play. Running home, cleaning their room, and leaning in and on their sitter (who watches a host of other kids with varying family setups) and so many others. The same was true when deciding to cover a friend and watch her kids for her tonight. Or all of the times my kids regenerated the definition of family, and with it, extended their community. It’s not by default, not just because I live alone with River and Oak. These days, I’m thinking about the way in which we build community so that we no longer perpetuate domination. If children, no matter the structure of their home, see how to call on people; if they know they can trust many persons to guide them and shape them; then aren’t we actively expanding the world for our children in a way that is necessary for them to grow into capable, healthy, awakened adults?
(Photo via Feed)
Love, love, love this. My husband and I were just talking around this topic and what’s going on, particularly in the US and UK, in racial injustices and how we create a ‘safe’ space for raising our children. Where do we find it, how can we foster and perpetuate it in their community…such an important and ongoing conversation. Also sent that same post to from The Conscious Kid today!
Love this Rachel, thank you. I think it is so so important. Especially when we (as I am kind of proposing here) on the front lines of racial injustices, policing and community. It has to be part of the work and the bounds of “safety” have to be explored when it comes to the adults. And when it comes to raisig our children, it has to be shown.
This is so important and a great reminder that adults need a community they can trust around them as well. We recently moved to a new state and the hardest thing is having no one around for hundreds miles that we know or trust. I did manage to find a baby and me yoga class as a community I can insert myself into.
Yes! I am always reminded of this when I open up to a girlfriend about a struggle and she is like, “why didn’t you call me?” Or, please come over and lets have dinner. And so on. And there has been many times whe I did this for friends, but you somehow think you are supposed to be the one who’s okay. And no, it is so important to realize you are not okay doing things solo and that you need people. I really hope the baby and me yoga class helps you. I have also found luck in Facebook groups that do meet-ups etc.
This is a beautiful post. Finding trustworthy people for support is insanely hard when you live in a community where people seem to be comfortable in their own little bubble. I’m working on trusting a few, it’s so hard. Thank you.
It is for sure hard, and defininetly takes a lot of work. But always so worth it. Thank you so much for reading!
This is spot on, love the subject you’re exploring here. There are so many ways to build community for our children and we need to teach them early on that there are safe spaces outside their immediate kin. I’m a new fan and follower and been reading through your blog with interest and a ton of resonance. I’m working on a project that I’d love to chat with you about, will drop you an email if that’s ok. Keep doing the work you do, love your writing x