Having people around us who can help us and understand our needs is important. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is still very relevant but so often when I’m talking to parents they don’t feel like they have any support around them at all. Whilst it’s not impossible to parent without support, having it makes life a lot easier, particularly when you’re child has additional needs or you’re parenting by yourself.
Having supporters is only helpful though if they are actually helping. I know that I’ve had people in my life who have wanted to help and have tried to help but in fact their help isn’t helpful. Not because they aren’t trying, usually because they haven’t understood my approach to parenting or my son’s needs. That’s not their fault necessarily. They might think my approach doesn’t work and not agree with it, but ultimately it causes more problems than it solves. Sometimes, we have to carefully let these people go because unhelpful support is worse than no support in my opinion.
Having supporters who ‘get it’ is amazing. They can help and support you every step of the way. I’m lucky enough to have a good selection of supporters. I have different people for different types of support and that works brilliantly. I have friends to chat to about anything other than parenting (there is life beyond being a parent), friends to have the ‘is this normal?’ conversation with and friends and family who can babysit (not that I go out much, it’s usually work related absences). I also have supporters for my son, people he can talk to when he doesn’t want to talk to me or it’s a ‘boy’ thing and apparently mum can’t answer! I think it’s really important to have different supporters if you can, although I know it’s not always possible.
Often we need to think outside the box a little to find supporters, or to realise who our supporters are because it’s not always from the obvious places. If you’re struggling, here are some ideas on where you might find them:
- school (some are great),
- social workers,
- family support workers,
- youth club,
- other parents,
- online groups,
- support groups.
I know it can be hard but our immediate family aren’t always the best people to provide support for lots of different reasons. Try not to focus on who isn’t supporting you but you feel they should be, and focus on who is and where you can get more support.
When it comes to asking people I’ve always been clear with them what it is I need. I’ve explained how I parent, why I parent that way and I what I need from them. In the early days when things could escalate very easily at home, I had a great neighbour who would come over. I used to text her and she’d pop over. I was clear what she might see or hear and what I needed her to do and checked that was OK with her. She was fine to do it and it was so helpful knowing she was there if needed. If we are going to ask someone to come over as things are escalating I think it’s important we explain clearly to them what might be happening. We don’t know their background and supporting us in that situation might be very triggering for them – that wouldn’t help anyone. I’ve always said to people that it’s OK to say no. If they do, they are usually willing to help in other ways.
I know some parents have said to me that you can’t do NVR without supporters. That’s not the case. Yes, it is a key aspect of it, but you can do it without and together we can build you a support network.
If you’re thinking I don’t have any supporters, that’s OK. Come and join us in my free Facebook group and you’ll find a whole group of supportive parents who understand what you’re going through and are there for you. I share tips and ideas in the group every day to help you as well. Join us here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/connectiveparentingusingNVR/