Parenting Takes A Village
This article appeared in the January 14, 2019 edition of the Register-Guard.
We are social creatures by nature. In the earliest years of our existence on Earth, our survival depended on having family and friends in our village to feed, shelter and comfort us.
Today’s world is vastly different from the early hunter-gatherer days. But there is one thing that has not changed: our need for social support.
Without proper social support, parents are at an increased risk for isolation and depression. Parenting Now! (then Birth to Three) founders Minalee Saks, Andi Fischhoff, and Sue Kelly recognized the need for social connection in the early days, months and years of parenthood. As parents themselves, they also knew how easy it was to slip into social isolation with the demands that come with child rearing.
Since 1978, more than 100,000 parents and children have benefited from Parenting Now! programs and services, including groups and drop-in programs that offer parents the chance to connect with one another and form friendships.
What does village mean to you?
Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, all parents benefit from having people to talk to, connect with and rely on. Some of us have family nearby to help with childcare and household chores; others have friends with same-aged children to share stories with and celebrate milestones; and for working parents, they may have co-workers they can confide in for a couple hours each day.
But for many of us, we have none of those options. So how can you, as a parent, create a village when you don’t have one?
It’s never too soon to look into parenting groups or drop-in programs like those at Parenting Now!. If you are an expecting parent, attending a Language of Newborns group can introduce you to other parents who are expecting around the same time as yourself. If you have a newborn or infant, Baby Connection is a great, weekly drop-in option where you can have baby weighed, get feeding support and chat with other parents. If you’re looking for more information on child development development and parenting tips, the Make Parenting A Pleasure and First Three Years programs can cover both bases.
Around town, you can find many options for parenting resources. WellMama, Daisy C.H.A.I.N, Healthy Families of Lane County, La Leche League of Lane County, and many others — which can be found at https://resources.parentingnow.org — offer everything from parent education classes, playtimes, baby music classes and feeding support.
It’s OK to ask for help
Local mom Erin Bowling was told that her 7-week old son, Finnegan, was not following a normal growth trajectory. In fact, he wasn’t even on the charts. The breastfeeding mom was advised to supplement with formula. Making matters more challenging, Finnegan’s dairy sensitivity would require an expensive hypoallergenic formula. That’s when Bowling took to social media for help. She found a Facebook group called Human Milk for Human Babies (http://hm4hb.net), which helps connect moms with breast milk donations. Bowling asked if anyone had dairy-free breast milk to donate. In less than a day, three moms came forward with 200 ounces of dairy-free frozen breast milk to give.
Because two of the donors lived out of the area, Bowling asked friends and family to help her with transportation. Today, now at 3 months old, Finn is gaining some chub in his face and a cute little round belly.
Sometimes building a village means putting yourself out there. As in Bowling’s case, she solicited donations from other breastfeeding moms so she could continue to use breast milk exclusively. In other cases, it may require mending bridges with family or friends. Other times, it may simply be summoning the courage to approach a mom at the playground to strike up a conversation.
If you’d like to build your parenting village, visit parentingnow.org to learn more about our parenting groups and drop-in programs.