Our elders do say, “It takes an entire village to raise a child”.
It is true that some aspects of parenting must be delegated at one point or the other. However, I still believe that parenting is the responsibility of the biological parents, as long as they are alive.
My parents were the very clingy type. I never attended any boarding school. Even my university was only a few minutes drive from home. Still, they allowed others to share in their responsibility. I spent summer holidays with our family friends, some of whom were of different tribes and religions. I spent some time with my relatives in other parts of the country too…
I think I am even more clingy than my parents. There was a time when I became very busy at work and my husband was visiting on weekends only. I felt guilty about my unavailability for my children and I considered sending them to a boarding school in Nigeria. I called a friend who worked in one of the best muslim schools in Ibadan and asked about their boarding facilities. To my surprise, she sincerely discouraged me from sending them there. She advised me to find another way to deal with the guilt I was feeling then, because sending them to boarding school may even worsen it.
So, I made up my mind that it was either I find a very good nanny or I quit my job. Funnily enough, I found a very good live-in nanny who became a second mother to my children. When it was time for her to leave and there was no good replacement, I knew it was time for me to slow down and take full responsibility.
The experience of hands-on parenting cannot be traded for anything. Once you miss out on the important milestones of your children’s development, you may not be able to understand them fully. If you are physically and emotionally unavailable, it may become difficult to win back their trust and friendship.
This is not a comparison between day and boarding school systems. Neither is it a call for busy parents to quit their jobs. I’m just trying to tell you that parenting is your responsibility and there is a limit to how much you can delegate. Once you know this limit, you will be happy and guilt-free.
Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (Saheeh al-Bukhārī 7138, Saheeh Muslim 1829).