Today’s guest post is by my friend and colleague Vicki Parnell. Vicki is a parenting consultant on Saturna Island in British Columbia. She believes parents are the experts on their children and works with parents to realize this potential in themselves. Although we have not met face-to-face YET, Vicki is a member of my parenting “tribe”!
I recently wrote about the often lonely times before I found friends who understood the unique ups and downs of my family’s experience.
Of course, it’s not necessary for all of my friends to have challenging children! But on hard days, having people in my life who have been through similar situations can make all the difference.
Here are some things I did that helped me to find “my people”:
I made a bit of extra effort
Many families connect and make friends in places their children spend time – the parent-teacher association at school, after-school clubs, and so on. But if your family is coping with extra challenges, you may not find the people who really “get it” at those types of events.
If you’re still looking for your tribe, a bit of detective work can help you to figure out where the other parents of children like yours are hanging out. Facebook groups are one amazing resource that I wish had been available to me years ago! There are also face-to-face support groups, information nights or workshops for parents of kids with specific diagnoses.
I reached out
I’m a classic introvert, and when things were at their most stressful at home, my energy level for socializing was pretty low.
It took extra effort, but I was determined that other parents should not feel as alone as I used to feel. I joined some online communities and decided to share my experiences with other local parents without expecting anything back.
It turns out that sharing my story with others helped to create a community for me, too.
There were times when something another mom said just struck a chord with me, and I found myself saying, “Your child sounds a lot like mine. If it would help, I’d be happy to meet up sometime and talk about our experiences.” I have made a few dear friends in the past few years as a result of my impulse to reach out. Now, when things at home go pear-shaped, I know there are people I can call on who won’t judge, and who have my back.