It Takes A Village, and Look How These Kids Turned Out!

It takes a village to raise a child as they say and that is the theme behind today’s blog. I wholeheartedly agree that kids don’t grow up in a vacuum – that they are part of the community that their families surround themselves with.

One of the reasons I chose to remain in Houston as a young married more than 30 years ago was that I looked around and saw a community of well adjusted, happy, great kids. I wanted some of those for my own and I thought Houston was just the place to breed some.

Sure enough, my kids were blessed with being raised in a community of kind, wonderful, giving, smiling faces. Our extended network of friends were like extended family to them and came though for us time and time again – through good times and bad. Through sickness and in health. Kind of how it should be in a marriage. We were very much married to our community and deeply involved in it – from religion to sports.

Going to smaller schools for elementary and middle school, these were the villages that helped form the values that came out of my children’s formative years. My children have many friends still from those early days.

If someone was sick, or healing from an injury, there was always a parade of people reaching out to let us know they care. During my divorce, my children and I came through like champs thanks to the outreach of support.

Our social lives were joyous – celebrating birthdays together and all sorts of life cycle events. Our synagogue was at the very core of all of that.

Now that all of the kids are grown,  I look around and swell with pride as I see the products of this community. It is a gregarious affectionate bunch.

I’ve often expressed how proud I am of my children for their success, for their big hearts and for their connections with so many important people in their lives. But this blog is about their peers, even including a year or two below my youngest – now college graduates in the workforce. Many of them are my Facebook friends, in fact many friended me before my own kids even agreed to! Some are a year or two older than my own kids, but were within our large circle.

We have a term in Yiddish for these young adults that I bump into all the time: mensches. Our community raised a bunch of wonderful, warm, caring, successful young adults who I am proud to know and reconnect with on occasion.

At an event recently, I had the privilege of being the recipient of sooo many bear hugs, brilliant smiles and loving sentiments from so many kids my own children grew up with. Such warm feelings came from young adults that I knew way back when they were itty bitties.  For those who were not among our closest friends, who was I to them but just another mom on the sidelines, who perhaps welcomed them into my home on occasion, rooted for them in a sports game or was a peripheral in their lives. Yet somehow they knew, as my own kids knew, that they were enveloped in a womb of caring people – with me included.

Just a few weeks later, we were invited to a dinner party to welcome back another friend’s son who was visiting and invited his entire peer group from elementary school to have dinner with us. Person after person gave hugs, conversed and smiled easily and enjoyed their time with the adults. (What a difference from those teenage years!)

Even those who grew up in total affluence seem to have their values solidly in the right place. So many of them are involved in all kinds of volunteer or charitable endeavors.

While each set of individual parents had much to do with them and their upbringing and the people they became, our community played a large part as well – and I think any one of us would gladly admit that.

I got so many warm fuzzy feelings during the last few weeks as I witnessed the products of our “village”  that it will linger with  me for a long time. We are truly sending out to the world some incredible, amazing young adults that will surely make this a better place to be.




  • It really is an amazingly wonderful experience to see these kids who “were doomed and told they would never” become the new leadership of the city. I marvel at their passion, compassion and work ethic, despite what those who still want to keep them down might say! Thank you Arlene for this wonderful summary of what we have witnessed. And of course they all hugged you, you were always one to see the good in each of them!

  • You get to be Michelle Duggar without the physical toll on your health! Seriosuly, wouldn’t it be nice if every town in America offered that commmunity feeling? Where all children could flourish because of a great support system?

    • I know – it is really special here. And I don’t have to deal with a stretched out womb like Duggar!

    • Thank you for the blog post. Jones and I have been saving for a new e-book on this issue and your blog post has made all of us to save money. Your thtguhos really answered all our issues. In fact, more than what we had thought of prior to when we came across your great blog. I no longer have doubts including a troubled mind because you have really attended to our own needs in this post.

  • A big difference after the place where we grew up, I suppose. I was also on the lookout for a less hostile place than that, and more or less found it.

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