Despite the wonders of technology, our communities are more isolated than ever. Even though we can send videos and texts across the world in seconds, many of us are living with smaller social groups and thin support systems.
A recent survey found that nearly 1/3 of Americans suffer from chronic loneliness. This statistic has a huge impact on our communities. For many of us, the network of neighbors, friends, and extended family members we used to rely on to help raise our children no longer exists naturally. How does the increase in social isolation affect your ability to parent? How can parents without a strong social safety net create a village to help them raise their children into capable and well-adjusted adults?
Parenting Fails: Life Without a Village
Even in the most ideal situations, parenting is tough. Without a support network, the hard times can seem almost impossible. These are some of the common consequences that occur when parents lack the presence of other adults to aid in the care, supervision, and education of their children.
- Increased pressure on parents to perform the duties once shared by the community. Parents lose the ability to set clear priorities and goals as they attempt to juggle multiple responsibilities. In the end, this makes them less effective in all their endeavors.
- Increased anxiety for parents and children. Humans are tribal by nature. Without clear borders to define their community, both parents and children feel less safe in their daily lives. Depression is another side effect of long-term insecurity.
- Children are physically limited. Without strong, positive relationships throughout the neighborhood, parents must restrict their children’s outside activities to protect them from potential dangers. This not only aggravates loneliness but the lack of physical play increases obesity rates.
When parents try to compensate for the village dynamic on their own, the whole community suffers.
DIY Village for Isolated Families
The good news is that communities can be created. Use these techniques to build up your social support systems.
- Get to know your neighbors. Make an effort to chat with them when you pass by, invite them over for snacks, and involve them in your life. Your neighbors are a vital part of keeping kids safe while they play outside and explore their physical surroundings.
- Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom, stay-at-home dad, or anything in-between, there is an online group with information, chat boards, and emotional support. In larger cities, there may be local group meetings you can attend.
- Sign up for parenting classes. This is a great place to meet other parents, find potential babysitting sources, and learn some new strategies.
Building a village is all about making connections. Talk to teachers, coaches, and everyone else who plays a role in your child’s life.
Raise your children in a village mindset to reduce stress, avoid health issues, and to give your children a solid foundation on which to grow.