We all know that it “takes a village” to raise a child. When a child grows up surrounded by a wide net of positive influence and support, from family and friends to the larger community, they are likely to experience success. What we don’t talk about often enough, however, is the importance of that wide net of support for the parents.
It’s hard to raise a child. It becomes even harder when, as a parent, you are isolated. Maybe you moved to a new town where you don’t yet have a network of friends established. Maybe you live in a location that is geographically isolating. Or maybe you had a falling out with people in your life, and you are hesitant to reach out to them for help. No matter the reason, when you are alone, the stresses of parenting can feel overwhelming, and overcoming obstacles can be that much harder.
There are so many questions that arise for parents, especially first-time parents.
What are the best diapers? When should I call the doctor?
How do I get my baby to stop crying?
It’s comforting when you have trusted friends or family members you can call on for advice. Relying on the people in your life who have done this before and can lend a supportive ear can be uplifting and can help you feel that you are not alone. Interacting with no one other than a toddler all day can be challenging, so when a community of parents can come together to share experiences, swap stories, and offer help and support, it builds the parents’ capacity to manage stress, strengthens confidence in parenting skills, and ultimately benefits the health and well-being of the children.
Beyond the need for parenting support, having a group of friends who you can let your hair down and have fun with relieves stress and can lead to a more balanced life. It’s important for parents to take time for themselves, practice self-care, and have some “adult time” when possible. This might mean having a friend over for coffee, where the children play while the adults catch up. It might look like a group of friends that regularly get together while one friend watches all the kids. It might even be as simple as taking a trip to the grocery store together. Social interaction doesn’t have to be complicated, or costly. Even a phone call can go a long way in letting another parent know that they can count on you for support.
So, what should you do if you don’t already have an established network of friends? Try to get to know other parents at your child’s childcare center or school, look for a parent education class or support group in your area, or organize a get together for families in your neighborhood. It’s not always easy to make new friends, but the good news is, you most likely already have something in common: you want to be great parents. Build on that!
Forming and maintaining these valuable relationships will benefit the entire family in the long run, giving parents the support they need and providing children with a positive network of adults they can trust and lean on throughout their lives.
Have questions about parenting call our 27/7 Parent Helpline 1 (800) 356-6767