Attachment Parenting in The Rural Areas

by Rita Brhel on March 15, 2010

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I understand that many of you likely live in an urban area, and so this post may sound a little odd to you. I live in rural Nebraska – smack in the middle of farm country. There aren’t a lot of people here. For example, I drove 250 miles the other day and saw perhaps a dozen cars. I live on the edge of an average-size town, and the population is 450.

apruralareasWe’re used to isolation here. In some ways, it makes attachment parenting easy – not a whole lot of people here to pass criticism; in some ways, it makes attachment parenting hard – not a whole lot of people here to go to for support. The people who are here tend to have the same views, some rather narrow-minded, because there simply aren’t enough people to split into separate interest groups!

But I know there’s a need for AP support here. I get calls here and there, sometimes from parents, sometimes from La Leche League leaders, who want community AP support. Problem is, there aren’t enough people in any one town or even county, or even group of counties, to hold a formal Attachment Parenting International support group. So, I’m faced over and over with the decision, do I try to start a support group here?

One day, I realized something so unbelievably simple – it’s not about me! An API Support Group is about the parents API has the potential to help…through me. Does it matter that I may go months without more than a couple – or even, any – parents attending my meetings? Not to that one or two parents.

Starting and leading a support group can be intimidating to a new API Leader, or someone interested in leadership but who hasn’t made the commitment by applying for leadership. Unless you’re already a LLL or ICAN leader, or even a Lamaze or Bradley educator, you probably have little to no experience in starting and leading a support group. But, it’s really not nearly as complicated as your mind makes it out to be.

I used to be you. I waited around for three years to jump into API leadership until another person in Nebraska – a LLL Leader who had recently moved from Georgia (USA) – decided to start a group. I didn’t know anything about leading a support group, and the concept of learning it was daunting. But, it really was just a matter of reserving a library room, posting meeting times somewhere that people look like in a newspaper or one of those free websites, and welcoming parents at the door. I used to think leaders needed to present a research-based lecture, but it doesn’t have to even be that formal. With API of Lincoln, we now sit in a circle with older kids playing nearby, and share our thoughts and questions on a specific topic related to attachment parenting. No one lectures; everyone shares. The hardest part is to get to the meeting location on time.

Which is actually a significant challenge, considering I live two hours a way in a remote part of the state. Which brings us back to the original problem – getting support to the rural area, because I don’t know anyone else but me who is willing to drive two or more hours to go to a one-hour support group meeting. I can make it work because I have family and friends in that area of the state, but without these ties, it would take some convincing to make the drive.

What are your ideas to bringing API support to rural areas?

Photo: Micheal  Peterson

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Rita Brhel (91 Posts)

Rita Brhel is the editor of Attached Family magazine and is Attachment Parenting International's Publications Coordinator. She is also a local API Resource Leader. She lives in Nebraska (USA) with her husband and three children.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

mamapoekie March 15, 2010 at 5:38 am

I live on a plantation in Africa… so I get what you are talking about. Congrats to you though for going through all the trouble anyhow.

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MamanADroit March 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

Maybe an e-support group? I know on msn messenger you used to able to have a discussion with multiple people @ the same time. So you’d be chatting all at the same time, and there would be more privacy than something like this blog, which would help the group feel more safe opening up. You could even combine weekly/monthly online chats with quarterly real-life meet-ups to provide both! I have friends (not sure if they do AP or not) in rural NE near Lincoln, so let me know if you get something going and I’ll tell them about it!

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Becki March 15, 2010 at 7:37 am

We live in an urban setting now but are moving overseas for the military soon. I know the support isn’t there and I worry a bit. Maybe I’ll just have to start something.

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Kay March 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

Maybe you can start a yahoo groups…. no fee there… and that will help form a community, to get the mails going and people start talking in there and form a community. Based on the outcome of that and seeing how interested people are in meeting each other, you can arrange a meeting at the library or outdoor areas like parks or even a hike in the woods.

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Jasmine Carlson March 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I also live in a rural area where there are no groups… it can be difficult to decide what to do and how to go about it.

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Micheal Peterson March 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for using my image on this site!

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Amanda March 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Rita – I am in a small rural NE town (Wahoo) as well, but 30 minutes away from Lincoln and Omaha. I plan to attend the API group meeting this next time. Perhaps we will meet. :( Hard to find someone here to feel “at home” with as our neighbors are all extreme opposite parenting styles. We haven’t been here for very long, about 4.5 months. I have often thought about starting a group but did not think many would come, plus we’re not that far away from a group, but it would be nice to meet others here or near here for play dates and such b/c gas is too high to go to town very often for us. I will probably start teaching childbirth classes, and I guess I can feel it out from there and then decide if any would be interested in starting a group. Good luck to you!

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Amanda March 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Lol, well that unhappy face was supposed to be a smiley face, I wouldn’t be unhappy to meet you. :) Lol!

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