You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a village to do a lot of things. It takes a village to support health mental health. It takes a village to overcome debilitating illness. It takes a village to do almost anything difficult, because humans are herd animals and we aren’t meant to go at it alone. I’ve touched on this before, talking about how isolation feeds depression and ways to defeat loneliness in your existing social circle, but I didn’t touch on the kinds of support systems that are rapidly falling apart. It’s like this for everyone, and as these communities become weaker, people are feeling the results. We haven’t found good replacements for these systems and it’s because we weren’t meant to.
Family is supposed to be the biggest building blocks in our support system. As family life deteriorates with broken homes, problems with addiction, and divorce, our idea of what family is has taken a hit. It’s no longer viewed by everyone as a goal worth having. Family relationships are being replaced with friendships, and while everyone needs amazing friends, the two aren’t supposed to be the same.
It’s not to say that if you have a broken family you are all out of luck, or that your friend family doesn’t count as a huge part of your support system, it’s simply to say that the need for a family hasn’t been completely filled because friendships and family relationships are different. It’s not simply over for those without one though, it’s a need that can be filled. You can start your own family unit, or marry into a family that calms you as your own. Some have found that even though their immediate family is lost they can still be welcomed by extended family. Some have found that in reaching back out to siblings and grandparents relationships can be reformed.
The point isn’t that it’s impossible to do without a family, it’s that having a family is a support system that we need to give our kids, and that we should uphold ours if at all possible.
Neighborhood relations still exist, some people have great ones, but some of us don’t know the people we live beside. We haven’t made efforts to connect. Nobody notices when we go out of town for a week. There isn’t a support system there because we only wave and say hello. It might not be the biggest deal if you live with others, after all, your roommates can fill that void, but for people my age who live alone, not knowing your neighbors is a big loss.