I am an advocate for building helping teams, villages around people, especially children. The traditional African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has been widely quoted when examining the support needed for our children as they grow.
Parenting requires we create that village for our children and ourselves — a supportive network of people who are committed to fostering the children’s happiness and growth. Navigating the challenges and opportunities of parenting can be daunting — a team effort is necessary to ensure the children, and the parents, have feelings of worth, connection, and safety.
The street I live in is great. Generally there are children out playing most afternoons and weekends. On this street, you know that someone is keeping an eye out when the children are playing outside. I have built friendships and relationships with my neighbours, even if it is just a wave from the front yard friendship. I want to teach my children that neighbours, overall, are there to help. I also encourage my children to be aware and compassionate to the needs of those that live around us. At Christmas time I give small presents to neighbours I see regularly, like a Lions Club Christmas Cake, as I am part of the local Lions Club. This serves my club, my community, as well as my neighbourhood. If you don’t know anyone in your street or apartment building, take the initiative. Bake a cake, take it to your neighbours, and introduce yourself. Invite them over for a cuppa or just have a chat in the front yard.
To raise a child and weather the storms of life, parents must embrace supportive alliances. A supportive team for a child can include:
- Parent groups
- Volunteer groups
- Sporting clubs
- Friends and family
- Health care professionals
- Day care workers
- Church groups
- Local social groups — like walking, exercising, bird watching
- School parent groups
- Special interest groups
- Local council and library events
What has been my saving grace many times is the collaborative relationship I have with my children’s school or day care centre — namely their teachers and carers. For over 15 years, I have seen the benefit of fostering and nurturing relationships with teachers and schooling professionals. I legally hand over the care of my children and the responsibilities of social and academic development to these very special individuals for approximately 1,500 hours per year. I believe that my participation and support is vital.
The top 11 benefits I have found by getting to know, support and be in regular contact with teachers are:
- The teachers/carers have more understanding of my child, as they know what is going on in their whole life.
- I don’t jump to any conclusions based on my child’s opinion of the teacher as I have gotten to know them and their style of teaching.
- I have a greater understanding and empathy, individually and as an industry, of teachers and the massive job they do.
- I can follow through with routines and consequences at home that are working at school, which creates more consistency for my child and less stress for me.
- My children are able to own their positive and undesirable behaviour and there is follow up at both ends.
- The teachers and I support each other in a common cause—the best outcomes for my children.
- I can easily ask for help and understanding when parenting overwhelm hits.
- I know when my child is struggling in time to redirect, before it is too late or habitual.
- I get to meet and know some amazing people whose passion is to see my child succeed.
- My children see that I am proactive in their lives and when I need to, I will rally their team together to overcome perceived obstacles.
- I always find out what is going on and can share all this with my husband, who works away, so he feels connected too.
Whether you work, or are a stay at home parent, you can build your child’s team. Creating these relationships and building rapport with others comes in many forms — phone, email, and in person. In my most trying times, I have found the support of most teachers a blessing and having a supportive team around me lifts me up when I would rather run away and hide.
Here is an activity for you: Take a moment to consider who you could enlist to help you and be on your child’s team? How could you create a network of supportive people in your families life?
Do you have anything further to add? Please share in the comments below.
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