When we had our babies we lived in what we termed "Diaper Valley!" The subdivisions were filled with young parents around the same age. Many of us only had one family car which our husbands took to work. If we wanted to go anywhere we put the kids in strollers and walked. We were always over at our neighbor's homes and if we had any issues with kids or sleepless nights, we talked about it over tea, coffee and large slices of cake. There was comfort in knowing that we were all experiencing the same fatigue, worry, childhood illnesses etc. None of our worries got out of hand because we nipped them in the bud while they were happening. We didn't feel helpless because we had our own neighborhood social network. We cared for one another and for each others kids.
For all sorts of reasons these days new parents can feel isolated.
- Couples are more inclined to work longer. Women are often 35+ before starting their families.
- Their income allows them to buy homes that are not necessarily in subdivisions.
- Many new mothers are going back to work 6 weeks after their child is born so comradeship is not the same.
- The population is more mobile. Many move because of job opportunities. They don't know anyone.
- Their families are scattered around the USA or in our case, overseas. Their support systems are missing.
- There is a lot less 'Mayberry'-type neighborliness now. TV tends to keep people inside and phones and texting stops the face to face communication we once had. We are not interacting with our neighbors.
When parents don't get the opportunity to discuss behavioral issues, they often think they are the only ones who are struggling. They become so busy they haven't time actively to look for parenting help e.g. go to seminars. They blame themselves because they can't work out why their child has changed from compliant to disrespectful in no time flat! They look at other families with envy while their own kids are screaming up and down the aisles of Walmart. How much can they take? When will it end?
WHAT TO DO? WHERE TO GO?
Aside from wanting to personally escape to the Bahamas, here are some suggestions for getting help:
a) Try and get together with other young parents at a mall for coffee or some other central place where you can get moral support from each other.
b) Join a young mothers' group so your kids can play-date together.
c) Look up parenting sites to get specific answers.
d) Buy or borrow books on particular parent issues e.g. Asbergers, autism, asthma, Downs Syndrome. ADD.
e) Join special needs groups for support and help, as per d) above.
f) Ask your church or other organization to run parenting seminars at their location. Encourage your friends to go, also. You will get help with creating strong family values, discipline that works, getting the greatest potential from your kids, managing strong-willed children.
You need never feel alone. Individuals and organizations are there to help you.
Please feel free to check out the many resources on our blog and website - www.forefrontfamilies.org
Written by Sally Burgess