FIND YOUR VILLAGE
It’s all very well to say, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but what if you have no village? There’s come a point with many clients where I pause, stop talking about their child and say, “You look exhausted. Who do you have who can help you out?” For many, the response is bleak.
It’s not so much that they feel alone, it’s that they really are alone. They have become isolated from every meaningful person to them and feel unable to ask for help. Before it gets this bad, invest some energy and effort into finding a village. If you’re new to the area and don’t have family and friends around, find a village in the place where you are, then swallow your pride and accept all offers of help.
Online parenting communities may not provide face to face support but can give you a meaningful sense of solidarity in those dark hours when nobody else is around.
WAYS TO FIND YOUR “PEOPLE”
Get involved in your community. Volunteer for groups such as Girl Guides, Scouts, Surf Life Saving, sports teams or the school PTA. Churches run play groups, kids’ activities and youth groups for teens. Coffee and Antenatal groups can blossom into friendships for you and your kids that last well into their teenage years. Online parenting communities may not provide face to face support but can give you a meaningful sense of solidarity in those dark hours when nobody else is around.
In Maori culture, there is a saying: Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini. It means: My success is not mine alone. It is the success of the many. It may be time for us to humbly admit that our ability to successfully raise a child relies upon the input of many, many others around us.
You may feel as though you can’t afford the time, but can you afford not to put the time into surrounding yourself with a village of concerned others? Parenting may be the most daunting thing you’ll ever do, but it’s likely to be the most fulfilling and rewarding thing too. One – or if you’re lucky – two adults trying to work out this crazy dance of parenting alone is simply not enough. Use your village and you will find the way through together.
Adrienne Wood is a presenter, educator, parent consultant and mother to two adolescents of her own. She has a particular interest in children presenting with complex behavioural needs. Drawing on her training with the Neufeld Institute, she seeks to help parents and professionals better understand youth from an attachment-based developmental perspective. To learn more about Adrienne’s work with parents visit www.heartsync.co.nz.