The Black Family

“It takes a village to raise a child”

The largely western idea that a black child can be brought up and nurtured in an isolated nuclear family is historically an alien concept to many African and Caribbean families. Indeed the idea of a nuclear family with two parents and their children as a separate unit lies outside of the historical configuration of the black family.

The extended family with elders, aunts and uncles was central to the understanding of the concept of family.  Historically parenting in much of Africa and the Caribbean has traditionally been seen not only as the preserve of a mother and father, but also as the responsibility of grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, neighbours and close family friends; whilst often the guidance and support of church leaders, community elders and school teachers was vital.

Historically the whole community shared responsibility for the welfare and behaviour of its children.  The tradition of a strong community and family network is central to the idea of the black family and the security of our children. These traditions need to be adapted to cope with the challenges of modern day life in the diaspora and the support of other black parents and families is key to this.

The largely western idea that a black child can be brought up and nurtured in an isolated nuclear family is historically an alien concept to many African and Caribbean families. Indeed the idea of a nuclear family with two parents and their children as a separate unit lies outside of the historical configuration of the black family.

The extended family with elders, aunts and uncles was central to the understanding of the concept of family, and historically parenting in much of Africa and the Caribbean has traditionally been seen not only as the preserve of a mother and father, but also as the responsibility of grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, neighbours and close family friends; whilst often the guidance and support of church leaders, community elders and school teachers has been an invaluable part of the black parenting network. In other words the whole community became a "black parent network."

The Black Family Network

The tradition of a strong community and family network is central to the idea of the black family and the security of our children.  In addition it is key to us collectively taking responsibility for the welfare and behaviour of our children. 

The tradition of the black fanily network need to be adapted to cope with the challenges of modern day life in the diaspora and the support of other black parents and families is key to this.

Developing a sense of unity among black parents and taking individual responsibility for accessing vital support services can empower and stimulate a sense of community. The Black Parent Network aims to provide information and sign posting to enable an exchange of ideas and mutual support to go some way towards replicating the extended family unit that has historically provided support  for parents in African and Caribbean communities..  

Strong Community

The tradition of a strong community and family network is central to the idea of the black family and the security of our children.  In addition it is key to us collectively taking responsibility for the welfare and behaviour of our children.

The Meaning of Family

It is often assumed that we all know what “family” means.  Wikipedia defines it as a “group of people” affiliated by blood relation or co-residence – ie living together in a unit.   We can assume that their description is heavily influenced by western ideals of family.   They go on to explain how in most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children and how the traditional family unit ideally includes a mother, father and children in a nuclear family.   The role of the family is clearly pivotal in society and as well as being a source of important cultural and traditional rituals and celebrations, it is  as an important foundation for the economy and our social relationships.  However they also talk about extended family units and the concept of family is evolving to become increasingly inclusive.  Traditional family models are increasingly being challenged to be inclusive of single parents and same sex parents, whilst mixed heritage family units are very much a feature of   the modern family identify.  In addition the word family is being broadened to include a wider concept of human kind as a family and   being extended to refer to community, village, city, region, nationhood and even global village.

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