It Takes a Village?

The expression (straight from this area of the world, I think) it takes a village to raise a child is now common place and often quoted in support of the need for community in raising children.

I agree, and I disagree.

There are a lot of children in this village, and lots of family in community here. So very often, the children are allowed to go from place to place without their parents. Just one example: a boy of 2-1/2 years whom I’ll call “Tommy.” Tommy visited our home with his mother and played with our children a few times. Subsequently, one morning he showed up at our door and walked in without invitation and without parental accompaniment. I watched, bemused, as he engaged our littles with some toys, saying nothing the entire time. Once bored, he wandered off toward his grandparents’ house. Later, I saw him returning toward home with a cup full of beans and corn. About an hour had elapsed, during which time I believe his mother was doing her wash. I don’t know if she knew for sure where Tommy was the whole time.

Very often in the morning (during our school time) Jane will come and say hello. She sometimes invites the littles to go to her home or to see her parents (they all live right next door). Since the littles are occasionally uninvolved during our academic mornings, and since the children enjoy playing with the animals there and sometimes interacting with Jane’s young son, I allow them to go for a while. Frankly, I hesitate to offend by refusing, since everyone knows it takes a village and all.


This is a safe place to be, all things considered. Most of the families here are in community and are “good” people. I don’t really worry about the children’s physical safety when they’re apart from me. My hesitation in giving them more freedom is not about that at all. The problem is that though most of these folks are “good” people, there is a chasm between them and us in terms of world view. You don’t go very far before you encounter the community witch doctor and see various “shrines” set up in people’s homes and yards. Ancestor worship is alive and well here. The Bible says that our battle is not against flesh and blood and that there are powers and principalities in high places who are opposed to Christ, and I believe it. I also believe that our children are spiritually vulnerable to attack. If I do let them go visiting, it is not without praying for spiritual protection almost the entire time they’re gone.

If the spiritual issues aren’t enough of a consideration, I’ve also seen some of the fruit of it takes  a village. One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is the children. The ones who have nothing better to do than line up at our fence for hours on end are the biggest trouble makers. And where are their parents? Letting the village raise their children.

I won’t say that it doesn’t take a village. But I will say, you should take a good look at the village and make a considered decision about whether or not you want it raising your children.

Ideally, the Body of Christ…the family of Kingdom Christians…IS the village. And in that case, community is, indeed, a benefit and a blessing. But don’t be deceived by the worldly concept of it takes a village. Be vigilant to supervise, love, and disciple your own children. Keep them close, and be thankful for the Body of Christ when you find true community to support you in raising your children and chasing after Jesus.