The selection of Marian Robinson as First Grandmother flew under the radar of many, but may reveal more of President-elect Obama's mindset and values than any of his other cabinet or administrative choices.
Rather than the view of the dominant culture that the mother-in-law is a nuisance, in our history, extended family has promoted our survival in hostile or complex environments. Particularly, the raising of children has been a communal responsibility as we have always understood that "it takes a village." In recent years this family perspective has become fractionalized as we have become a collection of individuals at the expense of the caring community that has been our strength.
Marian Robinson, the mother of First Lady-elect Michelle Obama, by moving into the White House to care for Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7 as their parents attempt to run a nation as well as a household means reviewing our child-rearing practices as part of reclaiming our family values.
It also means the following:
Parenting in the 21st century is a complex issue, indicating the need to adapt or for creativity in providing safety, care, and discipline to ensure emotionally healthy children.
The days of saying children should be "seen and not heard" should be replaced by a new refrain that states "Children are Important" and raising them requires a plan and not leaving their future to chance.
The first task of the village or extended family is to provide a place of learning, love, wisdom, understanding, and comfort. When peace and harmony are added, that is home.
Not where I was born, but where it goes well with me is my home.