It Takes a Village

RIP Lilly Garcia, age 4.

Lilly Garcia, age 4.

It takes a village to raise a child. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

Yet, however many times this phrase has been repeated, it hasn’t been enough to take hold. And maybe, just maybe, if we took it to heart, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.


Perhaps it’s just that we seem to forget that we all play a part in raising children. Whether or not we actually have children of our own, collectively, we all have a hand in their well-being and future. So, as a community, shouldn’t we be caring for them and teaching them well?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Not all of us are cut out for this parenting thing. And some of us have no business raising children. Still, I’m looking at the bigger picture. As adults, we are the ones in control, and kids being just kids, need adults to protect them, guide them and show them the way.

Children hold the future of this planet in their small, cherubic hands, and the day will come when we hand this world over to them. So, why does it seem we’re not doing our jobs? What’s up with this village that’s supposed to be raising our children?

Consider these very recent occurrences:

Item: In New Mexico, four-year-old Lilly Garcia and her seven-year-old brother are picked up from school by their dad, who is driving a red pickup. They sit in the backseat. Before you know it, Dad gets caught up in a road rage incident with another driver. Each uses their vehicle to cut the other off. Rage escalates until the driver of the other vehicle shoots into the red pickup, firing multiple shots. Dad pulls over to find his daughter bleeding. Struck by at least one bullet, Lily dies.

“I’ve seen tragic loss of children in car crashes,” said the police chief. “To me, this is one of those crimes which is unexplainable.”

Unexplainable doesn’t begin to describe the horror of

Item: During a pursuit of a man driving a sport utility vehicle in Louisiana, police fired shots into the vehicle. Next to the driver sat Jeremy, his six-year-old, autistic son. The father was critically injured and Jeremy was killed, having been struck several times in the head and chest.

“He didn’t deserve to die like that,” said the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police.

Oh, really?  Well, no kid deserves to die like that.

Item: Tyshawn, a 9-year-old boy from Chicago, Illinois, was still in his school uniform, when he walked to his grandmother’s house after school. He was lured into an alley where he was shot, execution style, multiple times, apparently caught in the crossfires of gangland activity.

“A baby was executed, a baby was assassinated right behind us in this alley,” said the neighborhood Roman Catholic priest. “We’ve got to put the barriers back saying this here is not going to be tolerated.”

Not even 10 years old and executed at gunpoint. No words.

Is the priest right? Are we going to be able to put some sort of barrier up so that everyone knows not to cross it, and that treating our children in this way is unacceptable? Or is this what we’re in for in this post-Sandy Hook era?

It takes a village to raise a child.

Children deserve to have some sense of security in their lives. To live, play, learn, laugh, inquire and most of all, to be loved.

It takes a village to raise a child.

I don’t know what we can do to protect our children from such tragedies, but I will say this: No child should be caught in the crossfire of adult stupidity. No child.

I leave you with these words:

“If you bungle raising your children,

I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

Jackie Kennedy

22 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. So many drive-bys in Miami kids grow up with such events a natural and expected part of life. Any kid could be next. Kids know it. Some drive-bys are gang related and retaliatory but most are initiation rites for gang membership. Kill someone, anyone as part of gang initiation. Kids are the usual victims.

  2. Monica, it’s been too long, my friend. Life is complicated but it appears we are finally seeing a bit of light. I’m so happy to catch up on your blog posts. This one, given the recent tragedy, hits close to home. The violence, the killing, the lunacy of it all has to stop. I try to stay away from the news because of how depressing it is to realize we live in such a world. There’s not a day when the Son goes off to work that I don’t pray the guardian angel prayer for him over and over. I’m overcome with anxiety and worry and frankly, it’s been getting the best of me. Indeed, it takes a village and every child deserves to live his or her life without fearing today will be his or her last day. Hugs to you and Sir Henry and Oliver!

    • So glad to see you here, Bella. How’ve you been? Would love to catch up. I think about you whenever I hear the news in Europe. Paris breaks my heart and I know Brussels is also needing to address the terrorism hitting home. Most of all I worry about the children and the world we are handing to them. After the Paris tragedy, I heard about a father who tried to explain to his son what happened and he said, the bad guys have guns, but we have flowers. That was so beautiful and perfect thing to say. I’ve always loved flowers.

  3. –It’s hard to read.
    Sometimes I can’t take it all in, you know?
    It’s all too much….way too much.
    And Jackie’s quote is true.
    I work for the school district & I see SO MUCH dysfunction.
    It’s truly a f*cked up & we are not sure where to begin…but I know the dyscuntion begins at “HOME.” xxx

    • I agree, Kim. It is hard to read. We should all be sensitized to this and address it and do something to protect our kids and keep them from dying in such a violent, needless way. Let them grow up.

      Parents should keep their road rage in check, too. I ask them, was it worth it? Was it worth it showing that other driver that nobody messes with you and cuts you off when on the road? And was it worth it, trying to escape from the police in a car chase? Was losing your child worth it? As for the 9 year old who was executed, no words.

  4. We have a rage problem. Our society is too drama-driven. Winning is all that matters. But winning what? What are we trying to win when we cut people off in traffic and open fire into occupied vehicles? Speechless.

    • How do we tolerate? It’s as if we’ve become shell-shocked by it and don’t even pay attention anymore. What’s one more child killed? Yawn. Just another day in the news. Sadly, these incidents happen too often. I was home sick last week, thus watching the news regularly, and these three deaths happened in the space of a few days. It absolutely horrified me, how easily we seem to dispose of our children.

  5. Monica, this post moved me so much. Having read your post, and then agreeing with both Debbie and Robert, I can tell you I have questioned my choice to be a stay-at home parent, and it comes up pretty often. I gave up a path to my PhD and job at a time when my oldest was suffering from multiple and severe food allergies, asthma and eczema. I knew she deserved my undivided attention, and because we were able to manage with one income, I cared for her because I did not want to worry about ER visits etc. When my youngest arrived, that path I so wanted to travel, had already shrunk.

    Our parents did it the right way and I try very hard to set expectations, instill strong values, to turn off that t.v. as Debbie said and pay attention. Really pay attention to what they’re saying, who they’re seeing as friends and help them set goals for success.
    We in California have a long way to go in terms of improving our schools. The debates my friends and I have, daily, about the destructive and disrespectful behavior at my daughter’s middle school is as good as a regular Democratic debate. She is going to an excellent school and yet the standards and expectations set are not met by some of the children. We watched a parent swear at our science teacher because he told her son to use the cross walk for his safety – really? is this what we’re coming to now? my parents expected respect, good behavior and good grades and it was never questioned. We just were. We are models for our children, and sometimes we fail.

    • MM, never regret choices you made. Making the choice to be there for your children is a blessing for you both. Not all parents can afford to do it, but when possible, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. You can always wait until they’re a little older. I think what’s missing today is courtesy, civility and respect. Respect for others, treating each other with kindness. Respect for the value of human life. So easily do we resort to solving problems by ending life. What gets me, is the innocence of children and how callously these three met their demise. Too young, too soon.

      • It was an easy choice at first Monica, when they were both babies we were blessed to be able to manage with me staying at home, as they’ve become older, I’ve felt a need to go back to school and finish that PhD, perhaps online, so I am here for the girls and dialed into what’s going on around them.

        It is a lack of self respect that leads to a lack of respect for others, that kindness, that courtesy. For how can you treat others poorly, if you have respect for yourself. A work in progress in my house. We see examples daily, even at our local Starbucks. I am often shocked when I think I can’t be anymore at a blatant lack of respect and kindness that is missing in our young.
        I wish I could have shared an article I read about gun violence with you. How they now make pink and blue guns for children, how there are birthday parties for children so they can play with these guns and learn how to use them. How many accidents there are as a result. I was reeling after I read it.

  6. I love Jackie’s quote here, and it’s so appropriate. Sadly, you’ve hit the nail on its head, Monica. We’re throwing more money than ever at educating people on how to parent — via child care classes, etc. — but it’s not “taking.” Why did our parents seem to do a better job with us? Could it have something to do with prevailing attitudes back then — taking us to church, setting high expectations for us, turning off the TV so we could study, insisting we read, etc. Could those attitudes have carried into our schools, too? Today, a teacher can’t even console a crying child. We give them free breakfasts and lunches, then send them home through war zones. It’s madness!

    • While I was writing this blog post, I kept looking for an appropriate quote to use and could fine none. Just as I was about to give up, I found Jackie’s. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Did you ever see a PBS Frontline episode on poverty in America? The focus was on children. So many go to bed hungry every night. It’s heartbreaking and something to remember this time of year.

      • Absolutely! And, at the risk of sounding like a died-in-the-wool conservative, I’ll just point out that, if the government would get its nose out of my wallet, more of us would be only too happy to donate to worthy charitable causes!! 😉

  7. Very thought provoking post Monica. Children are todays present and tomorrows future.

    I mix a lot with parents and often their desire for enjoyment on a day out takes no account of the children with them. Often I think they just don’t care.

    Now I have never been a parent, but I seem to have a knack of getting on with children, and I always make an effort to involve them when they visit the railway, but some parents look on them as an interruption to their life rather than a gift they can look after, love and guide in life.

    I am sure some psychologist will say why children are treated badly, but I honestly think it’s often a reflection on how parents treat children by how they are treated as children themselves.

    As a closing comment have you noticed where there are many children in a family that is poor and have no real start in life where one of the children will, against all odds shine and go on in life to be very successful despite the odds stacked against them

    • I just want to take a moment to thank you for being one of my most faithful readers. I always appreciate your comments, as they’re very thoughtfully written and often with a wry sense of humor that makes me chuckle.
      I think you hit the nail on the head regarding parents who are treated badly as children often treat their own kids the same way. Which is very sad. Cycle of life, eh?
      Yes, I have noticed that. In fact, I know someone who fits that bill. His mother was a poor, deaf mute teen when she had him. He, an African American, was was into the foster care system and then adopted by poor uneducated white couple who went on to take in 100 foster care children while he was growing up. That’s way too many if you ask me. Today, he’s an accomplished lawyer, philanthropist and community activist, with an expertise in craft beer. It’s amazing what challenges he had to overcome.

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