Life changes significantly when we have children, and it’s not uncommon for parents (especially those with newborns and infants) to feel social isolation. Between feedings, swaddling, and diaper changes to the busy toddler years of potty training, tower building, and imaginative play, weeks to months can fly by without us parents interacting with another adult.
It’s easy to dismiss your own needs when you are a parent. But having a social network and other parent friends to connect with is vital to your own well-being. Studies show that parents with support systems in place are at reduced risk for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Research has identified social connections as a core protective factor for strong families. Not sure how to start building your social network? Keep reading!
The importance of interconnectedness
Parenting comes with its unique set of challenges: Every child is different; some are easy babies, while others need a lot of soothing. Then, of course, there’s the toddler who is the world’s pickiest eater, or the 8-year old who refuses bedtime—and all the while we question whether these things are “normal” or if we are parenting the “right way.”
Having other parents to share your stories with and ask questions of goes a long way in filling our need as parents to feel understood and supported. It’s comforting to know that you are not alone in your parenting struggles. Here at Parenting Now!, the most common response we get when parents are asked: “What are the most important take-aways from your group?” is “meeting other parents” and knowing they are all “in it together.” What a relief it is to parents to find out that their child is not the only one who still wakes in the night, won’t stay still for a diaper change, or is scared of something that didn’t used to be scary. Life is busy! We find that many parents value having the time and space set aside for them to learn, process, support and grow. A parenting group has the potential to become that village we all have heard is so important when raising a family.
Find the support you need
Lane County is full of parenting groups and programs designed to bring parents together for support and socialization. Here are some places to get started:
• Baby Connection: Weekly drop-in program for infant feeding support and education.
• Daisy C.H.A.I.N.: Walk-in breastfeeding support; baby music times.
• Parenting Now!: Parenting support and education; group sessions, as well as drop-in program.
• WellMama: Maternal mental health support services; support groups offered throughout the week.
Locally, you can also connect with other parents during storytimes at the Eugene Springfield libraries; Facebook groups such as The Coolest Mamas in Eugene, and Eugene Springfield Moms. You can visit the Go Mom Go Eugene and LaneKids website for full lists of activities and events for families!
For a full list of local resources, visit https://resources.parentingnow.org/
As they say, it takes a village to parent. Never feels ashamed or scared to reach out for support. As parents, we can all benefit from parenting groups and additional resources and education.
This article appeared in the November 2019 edition of Oregon Family Magazine.