Parenting in community: how and where to find your village
This is the first post in a 3-part series on parenting in community. Read our second post on Forming a community.
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
Most parents would agree with this wholeheartedly. We need people to help raise our children: to care for them, invest in them, teach them and offer them new ways in which to understand the world.
But for many urban families, condo and apartment living make neighbourhoods feel fragmented; long work days and commute times allow for fewer evening hours; technology means increased feelings of isolation. And now that so many of us no longer live near parents, siblings and extended family, community can seem even more elusive and less attainable.
So how does one find a village these days?
The right attitude.
Key to creating community is being willing to reach out. This is your chance to find positive role models, like-minded families and caring individuals to be part of your network. Look for teachers, coaches and families from your neighbourhood, place of worship or community centre.
Try and try again.
Not everyone will share your commitment to community and not everyone will identify with your ideals. Don’t trick yourself into believing that finding community will be easy. But a good community is worth the effort it takes to find and cultivate.
Be up front and intentional.
We all want friendships to progress organically, but some relationships can develop faster with effort and intent. When you’re open about your intention to build a community, you might find like-minded people who understand and share your commitment.
And where does one find a village these days?
Discover the outdoors.
If you’re a parent looking for community it makes sense to frequent local parks, playgrounds or community gardens where other parents are likely to be spending time with their kids. Go regularly and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – follow up a conversation with a casual comment like, “I’m here most Friday afternoons if you want to get together and chat again.”
Ask your doctor.
Many hospitals offer new-parent groups where women and men get together to share advice, vent and offer support. And don’t forget your midwife, doula or family doctor—they will often know of parenting groups or can connect you to other parents in your neighbourhood.
Find your balance.
Meet supportive, health-conscious people at community and fitness centres. Group exercise classes often have loyal followings so you can be sure you’ll run into the same people each week.
Take a class.
Whether it’s a parenting class or not, you’re likely to meet similar people when you sign up for a class at your local community centre. There’s everything from Zumba to cooking classes to parent and tot yoga. Chances are other members are looking to meet people as well and would probably be happy to grab lunch or a coffee after class.
Don’t forget to go online! Find local blogs related to issues or topics you’re interested in (they don’t have to be about parenting!). Read, comment and engage. Local blogs will usually feature events or opportunities to meet up and the comments section is a great place to start a conversation with the blogger or another commenter.
How do you find community? Share your thoughts or advice with us below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. This is the first in a 3-part series on parenting in community. Check out the next post in the series on how to form your community. This post is written by YWCA Single Mothers' Support Services, which offers a range of individual and group services to assist, empower and inform single moms across Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford.