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How am I supposed to do this alone?... It takes a village

It takes a village…

You often hear the saying "It takes a village" when it comes to children. Parents say it to other parents, teachers say it to other teachers, and strangers share something in common when that comment gets made. Yet we don't know what it truly means until we have either had our own children or worked with children.

In a world like today, that quote resonates more with parents than ever before. Whereas 30 years ago, you had many more stay-at-home moms, and family members near your home or down the street, and the hustle and bustle culture had yet not taken hold it was quite easier to rely on your immediate family or community. Neighbors were known, teachers were visited at their homes, and work was typically done at 5 pm. Today, that community is more important

than ever before in an ever-changing world.

Mothers and fathers alike can sometimes feel alone when raising and caring for their children. But they shouldn't, in just 30 short years, life and work have changed drastically. Many more children are also being diagnosed with some intellectual disability (i.e., ADHD/ADD, Autism, etc.) leaving parents feeling unprepared. It seems that although it may be hard to admit we need that "village" more than ever before.

The Village

1. Your immediate family

Reach out to your immediate family. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Have them over for lunch or dinner. Start having them over constantly so they can get to know your children. Having family around is not only healthy for the child but also helps the parents mentally. Children who have extended family members around, tend to not only do better at school because there is help for homework or review work but it also helps with their behavior. Having a support system either at home or nearby makes the child feel supported and therefore the child's mental health flourishes. If no immediate family member lives near you, set up virtual meetings either through skype, zoom, or video chat on your phone. 

2. Friends

If having immediate family members is out of the question your close friends can be the next best thing. As the quote says "sometimes blood makes us family, sometimes we choose who makes us family". Invite your friends over, and have them also know your children. Allow them to babysit for you and allow for those deep conversations to take place. Having a person nearby to be able to let out our frustrations, hopes, and dreams dramatically changes the relationship we have with our children. We are allowed to have friends who support us, cheer us on, and are able to babysit once in a while.

3. Community Centers

A center in your community, like ours 1st Way Life Center, is not only a great place to meet other parents but It is also a way to get educated on certain topics that you may have questions on. Want to know more about postpartum depression? We have videos on that. Want to get some clothes for your new baby or toddler? We have a resource for that! Want to hear from other parents to be or just belong to a group of parents so you don't feel alone? We have a support group for you. The point is that this is offered in many communities, a simple google search could help you get connected to one near you!

4. Church

This may sound cliche, but a church can also be a place for you and your child. There are many churches around from all different denominations. Ask neighbors and friends if they themselves attend any church and go visit. You don't have to commit but many churches also offer classes and even childcare so you can attend. Belonging to a church can be beneficial to your mental health as a parent. Meeting other like-minded parents who can also guide you or

are in the same boat as you can help you in your parenting journey.

5. Neighbors

We didn't leave the neighbors last on purpose. Today approaching a neighbor can seem daunting especially since social media has taken over, we have our "group" of friends and leave everyone else alone. But this could mean we could miss meeting some pretty great people who happen to live 2 houses or 2 apartment floors away from us. See who else in your building or block has children and plan a play date where all the parents and kids meet at the park. Go as far as inviting those in your child's class if they are of that age. Having children around other peers from their neighborhood will make them feel more connected to their community.

We hope you take these points and consider reaching out to at least one of the suggestions above. The choice is ultimately yours. It can be hard to reach out to others, especially if we have been let down over and over. But alienating ourselves only casts more burdens on ourselves. Let go of the stigma of asking for help, and let the village around you help you become the best mom or dad you can be!

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