Maybe It Does Take a Village

May 29, 2011

Vanessa Van Patten of the popular parenting blog, Radical Parenting, is featuring a guest post of mine, entitled, “Was Hillary Right?” I’m discussing the growing movement in churches to affirm a “village” approach to raising the next generation, where parents assume primary responsibility but lean in on churches and other institutions to fill in the gaps. Here’s an excerpt:

When it comes to parenting, the evangelical pendulum has always swung from one extreme to the other.  On one side is the casual parenting philosophy, where Mom and Dad outsource character development and spiritual training to the church and to the educational establishment. But this approach has largely been proven a failure. Studies show that it is direct parental involvement that most impacts the faith legacy of children. An hour of Sunday school a week, a few weeks at summer camp, and Vacation Bible school are no match for the gusher of questionable worldviews that stream into a child’s life from the media, public education, and peers. With a casual approach, faith can easily be lost a single generation.

The reality of a parent’s importance has led some to swing to another, equally ineffective position, family individualism. Well-meaning parents, wary of the corrosive influences in the culture, seek to isolate their children, protecting them from harm. Not only does this approach leave children unable to answer their own personal doubts, it ill prepares them for the probing questions of an increasingly postmodern generation. Furthermore, when parents withdraw from institutions like the church, they miss out on life-affirming mentors and coaches who may fill in emotional and spiritual gaps.

Today, there is a rising movement that takes a “village” approach to parenting, involving the parents, the church, and other societal institutions as partners. Under this paradigm, parents still accept chief parenting responsibility but they are unafraid to lean in on the church, trusted mentors, and civic institutions.

You can head on over to Radical Parenting and read the rest of the post here.