Wanner: The importance of a village for families | Columnists
My 4 year old daughter loves to bullshit, tickle fights and get knocked down. I love playing with my two daughters, but this list of loves above I would classify as “not my thing”. My husband would agree that these aren’t his favorite ways to interact with our daughters either.
When we attend a family function, there is always an adult member of the family who likes to bully children or tickle my daughter. My daughter won’t leave them and will continue to tickle and sneak attack them for the rest of the family event. At the next family event, she will deliberately seek out that same person and start playing a game of “tickle me.”
I was worried about this at first. Does my daughter bother them? (Because I’m annoyed by tickling.) Do they want to talk to adults right now? (Because that’s what I would like.)
But these family members always seem content, because they love roughing and tickling, and they’re the ones who started the game in the first place.
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I used to feel bad for not liking roughing or tickling. Both things are healthy if done safely, appropriately, and if both parties respect the words “no more tickling” or “it hurts.” I’ve even gone so far as to read the research on roughness (it’s good for kids to be safe on the streets), and I still don’t want to.
Then I read Bismarck native Bruce Perry’s book ‘What Happened to You’ where he explains when we lived in small communities of people where the ratio of adults to children was four to one, there was four adults to one child to help with all their needs. He goes on to explain that it’s madness that we expect single parents to take care of all their children’s needs: cleaning clothes, reading books, teaching them to cook, throwing a baseball, etc. , because we used to do it with a village .
Bruce Perry has researched children who have suffered trauma and who currently have to live and be supervised by his team of researchers, and what he found is that children are talking to adults they know they can meet their needs. If they want to draw, they find an adult who loves making art. If they need someone to talk to, they will find an adult who listens well. If they need someone at home, they will look for it.
This is why, during family functions, children who need someone to play “pretend” come to find me.
It’s good for our children to have a “village” of adults in their lives. We as parents obviously always want to know and monitor these relationships for safety.
We can also take a deep breath and agree to let our friends, family members, neighbors and anyone in our village help meet the needs of our children while we can extend our strength to their children.
This summer my daughter has a babysitter who loves rough (safely) and my daughter can’t wait for her to come. This babysitter is part of our village.
Upcoming NDSU Extension Events
Call 701-667-3342 for help accessing virtual events or visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/mortoncountyextension for more information.
Monday-Thursday: Parents Forever, 12 p.m.-1 p.m., Zoom.
June 29: Parent Café, 12 p.m.-1 p.m., Zoom.
Jacey Wanner is the Parent Family Educator for the Parent and Family Resource Center – Region 7, a collaborative effort of NDSU Extension, Morton County, and the North Dakota Department of Human Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s degree in occupational therapy.