Parenthood isn’t easy, and we were never meant to do this alone. Many of us know the old proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. But, the evolution of society – with improved technology, travel, and higher costs of living – has greatly impacted our parenting villages. I shared a poll on my Facebook stories asking how many parents felt that they had a village to rely on; over 60% of the respondents chose “No, I do not have a village.” Despite the fact that we know we need this community in order to thrive, it is the building of this support network that can seem daunting and almost overwhelming.
A support network offers so much more than just an extra set of arms to carry the baby. Friendships provide a safe place to share stories, ask advice, build connection and share laughter. This village is also available when you need last minute childcare, to have a chat when you just need someone to listen, or to get out of the house before your patience is shredded – it becomes a safety net for you and your family. Having a mom tribe can shore you up when you need it most. And if you sum total the big and little ways your mom tribe can come through for you, it adds up to a LOT over the span of your child’s development which all adds up to a win for you, for your littles, and more generally for your family.
Reaching out to a fellow parent can be an anxiety-inducing prospect. Quite often, these feelings have very little to do with the person you are about to approach, and everything to do with the narrative that you have written about yourself. The amazing thing about being a human is that once we become aware of our narratives and realize that they may not fit with what we want to be, we can rewrite our story! And yes, it takes courage, and yes, it takes getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, but challenging our status quo and taking a risk can result in life-altering moments. It might mean making eye contact or promising yourself that you will NOT bring out your phone during drop off or even simply taking a deep breath and starting a conversation with that mom or dad you’ve noticed on the playground. You don’t have to create a life-long bond with those first few people you chat with, but it’s a beginning, and it’s where you start to rewrite your chapter on friendship.
Using Technology To Build Your Village
The online community is one of the most incredible happenings of the internet age. Forums, Facebook groups, apps and more have the capacity to connect parents from all over the country or even the globe! I have heard stories from parents who have developed meaningful relationships with fellow parents through online parenthood forums, as well as some mothers who have expressed their gratitude for their online 24-hour “support network”. There are various groups on social gathering sites, such as Meet Up, that are specific to parents who want to foster a parenting community. Apps such as Peanut (a Tinder-style app for moms to connect) and MomCo (a series of chats and forums) allow parents to connect through their phones, which helps when you’re feeling like you’re always on the move. And finally, there is good ol’ Facebook – you can search groups by area, ages, parenting practices, and more, in order to find a community that works for you.
Just like Rome, you cannot build a village in a day. But you can take small steps in order to create the kind of support network that our ancestors relied on. And if your inner story shows up and tries to convince you that you shouldn’t reach out, or click “join” on that group, remember, you are worthy of these relationships. You are enough. You’ve got this.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe joined Life360 in March 2019 as a Family Expert to help further the company’s mission of keeping families safe and connected. Dr. Lapointe is an Author, parenting expert, and registered psychologist.