Modern parenting is both dramatically different from just 10 years ago – and surprisingly unchanged over eons. What constitutes our “local” community has been slowly changing as the internet and other technologies have allowed us to become individual nomads. We regularly transplant ourselves outside of traditional, geographically convenient support networks. Online parenting resources help us discover new sources of support and connect us to those who are farther away—our plug-in devices help keep us “plugged into” important resources. In our physical communities, we glean parenting support at book club, waiting with other parents at our children’s lesson, place of worship, parent-teacher organization or whatever community is convenient for us in our busy, fully scheduled lives.
The links between early childhood experiences and later mental and physical health have long been demonstrated. We’re also clear about the centrality of the parent-child and caregiving relationships as the context of these experiences. We hear less about long-studied impacts that social support has on the well being of parents and caregivers. In the same way that carrots are known to be good for us, social support is also good for us. API has long advocated that more access to inexpensive parenting groups offering high-quality support and information is an easy, meaningful and effective community resource with benefits beyond happier and healthier parents and children. This AP Month we emphasize that connecting and expanding social support can only be even better.
API’s 2018 APM theme results in breaking down still more barriers so that more parents have access to research-based parent support. We’re turning our own resources inside out to create an even bigger knowledge commons. We’ll tap crowdsourcing as a means to create a bigger impact and network of shared knowledge, parent support and practices. Support is available across a wide variety of formats, but most important is that we find effective ways to give and receive support. Feelings of support influence our own well being and access to online and place-based resources are important resources for parents and children. Coming together based on common interests can harness social creativity, collaboration and information sharing—API’s core mission for more than 24 years.
API is proud to be a longtime parent community organization. We’re excited to announce our restructuring this month and share the ways we’ll be expanding resource access to more parents. Our goal is for every community to have access to tools for new parent groups to support healthy parenting.
There are so many ways of collaborating to establish or find new social connection, support and information. Whether we’re displaced and seeking a second or substitute family or “in-place” and interested in different ways of parenting, we’re all seeking support systems that offer trusted guidance and belonging. Someone to say: “I know just what you’re going through.” That someone may be you. If so, we not only promote connection but invite you to think and act in concert by connecting with other organizations or individuals serving families. By working together, we gain strength for the journey and increase our ability to help and make a difference. With many of us offering that trusted guidance, relying on resources to make it easier so that in coming together—fostering a love collective—we can create a more compassionate world for our children.
API urges local parenting groups to step out and connect with other local entities. Talk, listen, and connect to find possibilities. API will be doing it on a national level too. Get to know each other and look at what you can do in your community to work together for parents and children. Create coalitions, meet periodically—form a love collective—at least meet once. Infuse various local community groups and organizations with access to parenting resources and support. Advocate for universal parenting education and policies to change our systems that work against families and a healthy start. Affiliate with API, use our resources–they are there for you, and watch for all our upcoming announcements. Contribute and share resources, so that together we can create meaningful change for all families.