Parenting: From the Beginning
Sources of Social Support
In your role as parent you may find there will be well-meaning people who are willing to help you out with the demands and constancy of caring for a new baby. But with some of this help may come unknowledgeable advice (such as outdated ideas/methods of caring for babies) or, the help actually might become more of a hindrance.
Research shows that for a couple who are new parents the most effective support should be that of helping each other - in the caregiving tasks, household duties, for emotional support and for reassurance in the role as parents - supplemented with the support of other family members or friends. For unpartnered parents, a network of trusted people who can help out is essential. Some parents, however, may have no source of support from family or friends so extending your social support networks to include other parents can be very comforting and rewarding. Importantly, face-to-face support can be provided by organisations such as maternal and child health clinics and parenting playgroups.
By becoming part of a parenting or local support group you can share many of the same concerns about your parenting experiences with others. You can also share the joy and laughs of watching your babies socialise together!!! The important part is that you start to socialise. Of course, not everyone blends together in such groups BUT you soon work out which of these people you can share your thoughts with. From here, you can 'branch out' with these people you have met and start up your own social group - meet for picnics in the park, go walking together with the babies. For those of you who live in remote areas and have some distance to drive to your local township, it may be that meeting with other parents will be beneficial not just to take a break from being geographically isolated but to develop new friendships in your local community.
As far as my own experience goes, when our first son was born we had no family network for 'hands-on' support and none of our friends had children. I joined a mothers' group at the local child health clinic. Then 14 months later our second son was born! I was 'beside myself' (and remember this was before the days of the internet but thankfully we DID have a telephone), so I extended my network to join a playgroup ... 'Happy Days!' During the next 5 years most of us had work and/or study commitments but we shuffled our schedules around to being able to meet up each week, as well as being able to assist each other if babysitting was required. After 20 + years I am still in contact with some of these friends despite the fact we moved to another city.