Parenting is wonderful and rewarding, but it’s also hard. To navigate through some of the difficult times, you need the support of other parents who are struggling with some of the same issues. So sometimes you may need a sounding board to brainstorm ideas to address your children’s challenging behavior. Or sometimes you may need someone to watch your kids because you have an appointment or want a fun night out with your partner. Or sometimes you just might need to share about your day with a person whose vocabulary extends beyond the phrase, “Cookies for dinner, please!” or make sure your child has a friend around their age to play with when you go to the park.
Regardless of the scenario, parents need a village of support!
Many families rely on close relatives for that support, but sometimes family isn’t nearby or able to provide what you need. That’s why it’s so important to build your own village that’s filled with a network of other families you can turn to so you can do your best for your family.
Where can you find this support?
Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to meet new parents! Be open to new connections and putting yourself out there. Here are some ideas:
- Talk to other families when you see them! If you’re at library story time, music class or taking a walk to the neighborhood playground, make it a point to make eye contact with other parents and strike up a conversation. An easy way to start could be to comment on the activity at hand.
- Start online. Look for a local group on social media around a similar parenting interest. Search for a group with parents in your area who have children the same age, or maybe there is a local group for families who love to go on hikes or search for painted rocks. Once you get to know some of the group members online, you may feel more comfortable about arranging a meeting for your families at a local ice cream parlor, park or somewhere else fun!
- Ask for help. We all need help every once in a while but asking for help can make us feel vulnerable, even when we ask those we know very well. Embrace this discomfort and ask for input or assistance. You may be surprised at the results!
- Offer help when you see it’s needed. Just like you want others to be available for you, be the one to offer help. Perhaps by bringing someone a meal (Send a text: “Hey, I saw your post that you all aren’t feeling well! I made some soup and I’m dropping it off on your porch!) or take the kids to the playground for an afternoon (Maybe as you are on the way to the park, offer to take neighbor children to the park and give the other parents a break!).
Yes, parenting is hard and it can be difficult to ask for help. But building a village of peers to give you the support you—and they!—need will ensure a healthier, happier you, which as a result will make you the best parent you can be for your family!