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It doesn’t take a village, but why not be a Villager Dad?

SHARE It doesn’t take a village, but why not be a Villager Dad?

On Wednesday evening, I dropped my kids off at our church for youth night, got some work done, then stopped back to pick them up 90 minutes later. As we drove home, I asked for the quick rundown on how the night went.

My 9-year-old jumped right in and told me about how his Cub Scout den leader had spent an hour paging through his Bear book with him reviewing requirements and making sure he could complete the last few items before his 10th birthday next week. My 11-year-old son then talked about all the fun running-around games they had played as part of their joint activity with the young women. My 13-year-old daughter was dreamily preoccupied, which I took as a good sign.

As my kids talked, I saw the faces of their youth leaders in my mind’s eye, and I felt some really warm and grateful feelings. I know these youth leaders, and I count them as friends. While I was off attending to things I thought I needed to do, they were helping my children. They’re all busy people. I’m sure they could have used 90 minutes tonight to chase their own to-do lists. But instead they volunteered their time to help the kids in our church — my kids.

As I thought about my friends helping my children tonight, the title of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s famous first book, "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us," came to mind. I haven’t read the book. Probably like most people in America, I’ve only read the title. That’s probably all Sen. Bob Dole read too when he delivered his crotchety applause line at the 1996 Republican National Convention (“…with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child”).

While I agree with Sen. Dole’s statement in principle, it sure is nice to be a parent in a good village! How great would the world be if every child were lucky enough to be raised in a strong family that lived in a good village? And what if every dad was both a good dad and a good villager?

I came away from the drive home wishing I would have gone in to pitch in and help our den leader. I’ve been a Scoutmaster and a den leader before, so it was easy to imagine how I could have been useful. I could have been both a better dad and a better villager tonight.

I’ve got the same responsibility in every other part of the village where my kids live, too — school, lacrosse team, soccer team, chorus group, neighborhood and so forth. I know I won’t be able to do everything, but I’m going to make sure I’m not just the taxi driver shuttling my kids around the village.

I’m recommitting myself to being a better and more useful Villager Dad.

Nate Quigley is a husband and father of seven. He is a three-time technology entrepreneur and currently Founder and CEO of Folkstory (www.folkstory.us) a family-focused Web service.