Ali and I are both firm believers in “It takes a village.” We’re lucky in that we have supportive families and friends and, of course, each other. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I lost friends after becoming a mother. My priorities changed, and if the friend didn’t have children, she and I seemed to speak a different language. I was exhausted, and the very last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was get ready to go out somewhere. Eventually, I turned down enough invitations that I just wasn’t invited anymore. In my mind, that was okay though. How could I talk to someone who didn’t have children, didn’t understand? Now I know that my justification was simply ridiculous.
As time has passed, I have come to recognize the blessing that is the childless folk in my village. And as one who loves to be right, I was thrilled to receive an article from my sister Lora that points out the positive impact that childfree people have on children’s lives. As I read Recognizing Childfree Families on International Family Day, so many scenarios hit me: Story talking to her Tete on the phone, walking down the hall to avoid my eavesdropping ears; Story turning to her Bibi for videogaming tips because she’s the hip one; Story, just today, declaring Miss Rachel and Mr. Casey to be the best playdate ever. The playlist goes on, but my point is that those people who do not have children do just as much parenting as those who do.
They each have a special relationship with Story. As Story grows, she’ll need the confidante, the one who understands her world, the friend she can always count on no matter what, the one who loves her even though she isn’t related, the one who gives her a different view of life, the one who just listens without judgment or consequences. All these people are going to make Story into a better person than who she would be with just my influence. They can provide things that I simply can’t.
And let’s not forget the support and love they give me. I know for a fact that I would have screwed up parenting even more than I have already without the advice of these beautiful childless people. They do understand, and they have a much different perspective than parents do, which is so very helpful sometimes. It’s foolish to discount the value that childfree people can bring to your parenting.
The article sums it up rather nicely:
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Childfree people are a part of that village. Perhaps it is in the best interests of children – indeed of all villagers – that not everyone wants to have children of their own, even those who might make excellent parents. These non-parent figures are essential for children, they provide needed support for parents, and the childfree value these relationships as well.
So, thank you to all of you who are part of my village, and know that I value you and your influence and role in both my and my daughter’s life, whether you have children or not.