I love when other people parent my children well. I’m glad when my brother feels empowered enough to put my son in timeout. I’m glad when family friends get my children milk. I don’t think twice about letting other people we have chosen to share our house with take a central role in talking with my children and listening, and giving them attention.
I am not afraid of passing off my parenting duties for a few minutes when others are so willing. It is not an abdication. It is a righteous choice. I am supposed to let the village around me take part in bringing up my kids. Not because I need a break or can’t handle my own children, but because my children need to see that their are other responsible adults that care deeply for them. They need to see love from everyone and not just an insular view of it from me. They need to see the diverse ways that people can live and experience the world. And they need to see it work in their favor.
It is the same with anyone seeing things for the first time. The newbies in any community need to see that the community cares for them even if their primary mentors are unavailable. They need to know they are taken care of and will be ushered through their rites of passage.
And events that measure time, like birthdays, holidays and anniversaries must be observed. The years of use and the number of connections within a community matter. They should not be take lightly. We should know how much you have grown since the last time we saw you. We should mark when the newbie is no longer new. We should move them from the kids table. They should be able to speak intelligently about the things that were formerly out of reach.
That will allow our communities to progress, to change over time and adapt to the needs of its members. My children will one day host Thanksgiving, and I hope that by letting them know their community they will never forget just how important it is.