Sometimes I wonder about nature’s design for us humans. We are created these blank slates; vulnerable, alien, insatiably needy for patient, loving, reliable caring. Those first six years of our lives, especially, are so critical to our brain development, our sense of trust in the world, our physical health. This is the time that really shapes who we will become, and what we will may have to overcome, in so many ways. There is a lot of scientific research that shows us this.
So why, then, were babies and small kids designed to challenge their parents’ resources so? As adults, we become responsible for this most vulnerable being through a life-altering transitional period that leaves us in the dust, sleep-deprived, bodies aching, flooded with emotions. We make our way on these limited reserves for years, slowly gaining confidence and skills. We are busier than we have ever been trying to support extra people financially, emotionally, physically.
On top of that, we often confront the demons of our own childhood over again as parents, and try valiantly not to repeat the mistakes that were made on us. This can be triggering, confusing and painful at times. There are days when we feel on our last nerve from the screaming, mess, emotion, and power struggle it can all be. And yet, this is a time when we are having the most critical impact on our children.
What parents need most of all is support. Support to be able to get that sleep, to get away from that noise, get to that doctor appointment, or just listen as they sort it all out. Support to deal with the rest of what life throws at them. Support to come to the surface and breathe. Support to find balance.
We need other people who care about us and our children. Our children need that too. But too often, for multiple reasons, parents and children don’t have the support that support in their lives. Then, the stress of caring for small children can be intense, and parents struggle to give their children what they need. Building a community that supports you can be one of the most critical things you do as a parent.
If you lack support, where do you turn? The first step is to get out there and start meeting people. In most communities, there are places parents can go to be with other moms while their kids play, or get professional advice on parenting problems. It can take some time to build up a community of support, but it can have a great impact on your own health and the health of your child.
Here in Mission, BC, (and throughout BC) one great place to go is your local Strong Start program. Strong Start helps your child (0-6 years old) get used to a school setting and gives you a chance to share a cup of coffee with other parents. Our local Aboriginal Friendship Centre, and Mission Community Services, run “Family Place’s” which provide a variety of programs for families in the community. If you have a child with special needs, you can find support at the Mission Association for Community Living.
Those are just a few of the resources in our community, and I hope to be able to share more resources as we go along on this blog. If you need support with a specific parenting issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.