It takes a village to raise a child.
It’s a phrase we use often. Its origin is presumed to be African, but the concept is known and valued worldwide.
The meaning of the proverb has two parts: one is that a child needs the influence of not just their parent(s), but a whole village/community to have a full and healthy upbringing; and two, the village/community has a responsibility to assist the parent(s) on behalf of the child.
Unfortunately, this isn’t often the experience of the young parent, who can be isolated or feel alone in the task of raising their child. It is not easy to raise a child in the best of circumstances. The demands on your time, energy and capacity are great. Consider how much more when you are doing this task solo or when you are tackling the added burdens of stigma, poverty, mental health or lack of opportunities, to name a few.
When young parents are rather surrounded by a “village” that is committed to them, for the express purpose of encouraging and supporting them, they are able to not just survive, but thrive in their role as parent as their burden (and joy) is shared.
But it’s not always easy to find a village, particularly in our Canadian context that values individualism. Many people feel trapped behind their own closed door. In other cases, young parents might have a hard time developing trust of a community when they’ve experienced trauma from those who hurt or abused them and certainly didn’t act in their own interest.
The express purpose of our Young Parents Program is to create spaces of safety and belonging – villages! – for pregnant and parenting youth ages 15-25. We offer help and hope to young moms and young dads and their children so that they won’t just survive, but thrive, becoming a transformative presence in their homes and communities. (Read more about Our Story and how our programming came to be 20+ years ago!)
Our weekly programs are geared to young parents to provide respite, resources and equipping, and to find friendship, so they know that they are not alone. Our one-to-one mentoring helps young parents discover their values, set goals and receive encouragement to carry them out.
It is an honour and a privilege to foster these hopeful communities for young parents and their child/ren. If you are a young parent (or know of one), please reach out to us and join our village!