I was a scant six months into the journey of parenthood with my first child. All the blogs, books, and fellow playgroup mommies were telling us it was time to sleep train, so we did. We bought Sleeping Through the Night, a respectable and useful text on achieving the eponymous goal.
We followed it to a T.
For two weeks.
Our child did not sleep through the night.
Exhausted, still hormonal, and at my wits end, I found myself in tears at work, crumpling tissue after tearful tissue into the bin at the desk of my colleague, mentor, and dear friend, Jen.
What I failed to achieve through reading, studying, following, and begging to the good lord himself, we managed in just a 30-minute conversation.
Honestly, as it’s been over a decade since that day, I can’t remember what advice she gave me, or if she gave me any at all. What did happen was I tapped into the magic of the parenting community that can (and should!) surround each of us. Jen offered me connection – I was not alone. She had walked this path just a few years earlier with her own kids and it turns out many kids don’t follow the book exactly.
I walked out with resolve to set the book aside (as good as the info in it was!) and keep going another day. You see, Jen believed in me when I had stopped believing in myself. That day, I realized that the struggles and victories of parenting are best experienced together, within your community.
Call it your tribe, your posse, your mom squad – it doesn’t really matter and it takes all forms, but one thing is for sure – we all need it!
It Takes a Village
Parenting within community takes so many forms. Just a quick chat with a few colleagues and friends have confirmed this:
Getting Through the Terrible Trio
“It was time to start potty-training my second kid. Deep breaths…here we go. I hadn’t started yet. Life was so busy already with two kids under age 5, it was easy to keep putting off, but I knew he was ready.
One night, I was in a parenting class in which we were discussing the “Terrible Trio: Eating, Sleeping and Going Potty in the Right Places”. All three are places where power struggles can show up ,and they are such important life skills and opportunities for connecting with your children and helping them grow in their capability.
Just being in that class among fellow parents, I felt a renewed sense of courage. I went home ready to get started the very next day. I was able to let myself be ok with however the process might go. I realized: It’s going to work out. He doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to go exactly the way I plan. It freed me up and put me in the right space to help him be successful.
Being out in the community made all the difference, rather than being home all alone worrying about it. I was restored to the basics. It’s all about encouragement, getting connected, and remembering together that, Yes, we can do this!” ~ Mom of two
“We need community throughout our kids’ lives. A few weeks ago, my husband was getting so worried about our senior – stressed that her college applications weren’t getting completed, stressed that she wasn’t taking advantage of her senior year…just concerned that she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. Then, he went to the gym one night and came back in a noticeably changed mood. Turns out he’d run into two fellow dads who were also jogging it out on the treadmill. They had seniors too. They were just as worried about the same things he was. I’m proud to say that his lifted mood also changed the climate at home…and all three of those seniors got their applications in after all.” ~ Mom of teens
Finding Your People
“When I think about parenting in community – it ranges me for me. It happens when your kid is having a meltdown in public and a stranger gives you a knowing look and nod of encouragement. It also happens when your kid goes to Kindergarten for the first time and you meet people that you will spend birthday parties, school concerts, and soccer game sidelines with. Some of those people you end up really close with, and you have close conversations and commiserations about the trials and tribulations of your respective journeys.” ~ Dad of two
Learning Life Skills
“My 12-year-old daughter recently got interested in babysitting. We started with a close family friend who’s known her since she was a baby herself, and has two small children. We practiced the conversations about safety, payment, and scheduling in a safe space with someone my daughter knew and felt comfortable with. Our family friend was patient, kind, and respectful of the learning process. It feels so good to be able to support my daughter in these important life skills with more than just advice, but actual, practical experience. After her first successful babysitting job, I stepped back and thought, “This is what they mean by ‘it takes a village.’” ~ Mom of tween
Strength in Numbers: Let’s Not Parent Alone
Anyone who’s been there knows, parenting can be tough. It’s definitely not a path meant to be forged in isolation. We can’t be everything to our children at all times. Finding and expanding your parenting community throughout life is so vital.
We invite you to check out Family Leadership Center’s current programs and join our parent learning community. We are having fun imperfectly learning together, as we raise our kids to be resilient, caring, responsible people. We are growing ourselves as we raise our families. In this way, the whole community wins.