Find Your Village
The adage, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ has never been more relevant for parents, writes Taryn Yates
Some of the most well-worn clichés are also the most accurate. My favorite is the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” If you have ever had small children, you know just how true this is.
Children take up a lot of energy and resources. When my son was a newborn, my husband traveled, so sometimes I’d need someone to come over and watch him just so I could take a shower. Those brief moments under the steamy water seemed to refresh not only my hairdo, but my mental and emotional fortitude.
Now that he’s a toddler and I am a mom who works outside the home, I often need support with things like getting my child to doctor’s appointments and picking up groceries for dinner. My life has become a delicate balancing act of working and parenting that requires all the pieces to fall into place in just the right way. Any unexpected hiccup in my plans usually requires some form of support to get through.
When my son gets an ear infection, or my car breaks down, or my dog has an emergency, I rely on my village. When I’ve had a terrible day and desperately need a shoulder to cry on, or when I’ve had an amazing day and need to share my good news, I rely on my village. My village consists of a variety of strong and sustaining relationships.
Although my spouse is my first layer of support and defense, I also rely on an extended network including friends, family, trusted babysitters, reliable coworkers and an understanding boss. These connections act like invisible threads that weave together to form a protective layer of support around me and my family.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that having healthy social connections is one of the protective factors needed to build a strong family. Everyone needs a little help sometimes and some people need more than others. Parents who are supported socially are less stressed and have more capacity to dedicate to nurturing and caring for themselves and their children.
Unfortunately, too many parents — especially single parents and parents of children with special needs — have too little support. Many are going through the journey of parenthood on their own; shouldering all the responsibilities and expectations that come with being a parent without much help. These folks are more likely to neglect their child — and usually not by choice.
Take, for example, the new mom who is suffering from postpartum depression while her spouse works long hours, or the single dad who is working two jobs, causing his two kids to have to come home to an empty house and cook their own dinner.
These are not bad parents. These are just parents whose children are at risk because they don’t have enough support around them.
If you find yourself in the position of feeling isolated and needing support to be a successful parent, there are resources in your community.
In most places in eastern Idaho, the public health department is a good place to start looking for information to access a home visiting program or to get your child enrolled in Head Start.
Google eastern Idaho Public Health for an interactive map, or call 211. There are also informal ways to access support. You can join a church (many churches offer support services), or strike up a conversation with one of the parents on the playground.
The key is to understand that it’s okay to need help — everyone does.
ICTF’s Grant Manager, Taryn Yates, had a regular parenting column in her hometown newspaper, The Idaho Fall’s Post Register from 2018-2019. We have assembled them all here on our website, and she will continue her parenting insights as a website blog.
Yates, Master in Social Work, is a grants manager and planner for the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho.