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Monday Mom challenge: Expand your village

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Make new connections

City, country or suburbs, single-parent home or multi-generational household, one kid, two kids or ten kids, we don’t raise our children in a vacuum. Our children are not just a product of our parenting. They are a product of the community -- the village -- in which they are raised. The connections we make and the relationships we build in friends and family are all a part of who our children will become. Expand your village to make it the best child-raising village it can be.

Community

The proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" has not endured without reason. Whether we like it or not, the environment in which our children are raised impacts their lives. We parent both in concert with this environment and often against it. We strive to use the strong parts to our advantage and shield and guide through the weaker parts.

Accept

You can move every year looking for the "perfect" community and never find it because the perfect community in which you will raise perfect children does not exist! Whether your community is struggling or affluent, there will be some downsides to it. At some point you have to accept that no community is perfect, no village ideal and start working to make it the best it can be for you and your family.

Evaluate

Where is your village strong and where is it weak? Who do you know that your children could turn to if they needed help? Are you that resource for others in your community? Where can you work to build a sense of community for your children, other children in the village and even yourself?

Adjust and expand

Look beyond your four walls and look for ways to become a positive force in building connections, whether that's in the schools, religious centers, athletics or community education. Move beyond your beloved playgroup at the playground and look for areas where you can demonstrate the strong values you want to impart in your children.

The village that will help your raise your child is not an existing static entity. It's more than your physical location and more than those in your line of sight. It's something built over time. Expand your connections in your village to make the community in which you raise your kids -- and in which others raise their kids -- the strongest it can be.

Read more about raising children in communities:

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