Parenting is hard, finding the right support shouldn’t be
Raya Halet – Founder and Host of It Takes a Village Podcast, explains the impact of community involvement in raising children and the urgent need for accessible and reliable support systems to empower parents on their journey.
“You never forget the day you find out you’re pregnant” is a very common saying among women. At that moment, she realizes her life will never be the same again. Humans have been procreating since the beginning of time and having a baby remains the most monumental life experience.
We are social creatures that seek comfort in the support of a tribe while we navigate the ups and down of life. However, we are slowly losing our tribe, and our support systems are shrinking. The sense of community and support from our extended family and close-knit communities has diminished over the past few generations, leading to a deep sense of loss towards ‘tribe’ particularly when raising kids. This has largely been due to our global push towards urbanization and modernization that shaped individual and policy decisions towards family and social structures.
I think we can all agree that being a first-time parent is hands down the most nerve-wracking experience of your life. Growing up, we study at school to prepare for college so we can get ready for the world of work. Once in, you would undergo regular training in your early years to be best prepared for your new future. Yet becoming a parent is sometimes literally an ‘overnight’ change to your life. Seems we missed out somewhere.
The proverb “It takes a village” to raise a child emphasizes the importance of community involvement and support in a child’s upbringing. It implies that a child greatly benefits from the care, guidance, and influence of their parents and extended family, friends, neighbors, teachers and the broader community. This collective effort provide families with a diverse range of experiences and perspectives including role models that help shape a child’s overall development and well-being. While the notion might not be as widespread and visible in some societies, the idea behind it remains relevant and valuable.
When parents do not have a support network, they often face significant challenges and stress when raising their children. While many parents experience isolation, exhaustion, anxiety and massive burnout as they navigate all aspects of parenting, it is remarkably more intense for those without support.
It simply becomes too daunting, and let’s face it, it already is. Raising children is not intended to be a solo endeavor and never was. It is a responsibility shared by both parents that will benefit from the support, involvement, and cooperation of both partners, and their broad social and support networks.
My findings after interviewing over 30 experts in the world of parenting showed a clear pattern that parents need more support as they deal with the growing pressure in their heavily dependent non-parenting world.
They also need it quickly so identifying the right support should be made easy for parents. We can make that happen by providing easily accessible and reliable support systems such as parenting classes, online forums, counseling services, and community groups. This will empower us with the tools and knowledge we need to thrive as parents, and make a significant difference in how we navigate the complex and demanding world of raising our children.
Employers and policymakers can also play a vital role in supporting working parents by offering family-friendly policies, flexible work arrangements, and affordable childcare options. This is fiercely supported by economists who have seen strong improvements in employee productivity, GDP output, life expectancy and overall quality of life standards.
Ultimately, creating a supportive environment for parents will not only benefit their families, but also contributes to a healthier and more resilient society. Together, we can work towards making the journey of parenthood a fulfilling and well-supported experience.