July 24, 2022
This week’s blog post is from our dear friend and colleague, Mary O’Connell. Mary has a non-profit farm education program and LifeWays Representative site at Paradise Farm in West Bend, where she and her colleagues provide outdoor, farm-based education to children and adults.
Our culture values independence so fiercely. With the very youngest children in our care, we spend lots of energy and time helping them learn to be independent. From holding their own spoon or cup, to toilet training, to contributing to the work of the household. We Americans claim independence as a strong value all the way through our lives. Nearly four in ten older adults around the world live with extended family, but those in the United States rarely do.
Perhaps our attraction to independence helps explain the allure of the homesteading life to which many families are now feeling called. Self-sufficiency in the face of rising prices, food insecurity, and global uncertainty makes us feel more in control of our own fate. If the American pioneers could do it, so can we! And while learning to grow our own food, make more of our own things, and invest more of ourselves in our children’s education are all important and worthy pursuits, complete self-sufficiency isn’t really possible for us today. In fact, it wasn’t possible for the pioneers of old either. They relied on each other for all sorts of help. We humans do best within communities. As Kerry Ingram of Community Supported Postpartum says, community is not just about support. It is about sharing joy and celebrating life.
“When we reduce parenting to a task or obligation that must be done solo, we force parents to lose out on some of the joy they can experience by sharing their child’s growth, development and participation with the community around them.” – Kerry Ingram
As we all learned firsthand during Covid-19 lockdowns, isolation is detrimental to all of us – children, teens, parents, and elders.
Community Supported Postpartum offers some Village Tending Tips for supporting new parents:
*Is there a new baby in your community? Create a lullaby playlist and text it to the new parent(s) to play during the many hours of rocking and feeding. Music can soothe under-rested parents and change the mood of the environment. Playlists are also great for car rides.
*Leave a voice text of a song or game that a new parent can use for diaper changing, bathing or getting baby into the dreaded car seat. Sharing these parts of our upbringing, culture or home rhythm feels connective and builds friendships.
*Have some baby care experience? Share a note or text to a new parent that you are available for questions (no matter how silly they may seem), advice or encouragement. As we like to say in our groups, “making requests builds community”.
Are you interested in learning more about how you can create a community of support for new parents? Community Supported Postpartum’s next Postpartum Community Care course starts October 3rd. They are also offering a free workshop on August 22nd called Village Tenders. Visit their website for more information!