It takes a village to raise a child. – African Proverb
As a parent, you need your village or tribe in good times and in bad times. These are the people you can lean on for support, to find humor in the challenging times, and share successes with. They might be relatives, friends, or internet friends you’ve never met in person. Who makes up your tribe? Who do you spend the most time with on the phone or in person?
It’s important we evaluate the individuals in our tribe or those we surround ourselves with. Due to your child’s unique needs, you may be coping with behaviors and stressors that other parents do not understand. Your friends might say, Give her some tough love! If I were you, I’d… (insert advice you did not ask for).
You don’t need sympathy. What you really need is empathy. People who can say, “That sounds really difficult. I understand how hard this must be for you. What can I do to help?” People who can sit with you in the dark times and be present with you until it gets a bit brighter. People who might not have experienced the same crises you have but who will listen, understand, support, and relate. These are the individuals you want in your tribe.
As human beings, we are constantly evolving. You may have realized you need to abandon traditional approaches in order for your child to be successful. You may have noticed after certain playdates or social situations you feel more negative than positive. At times we evolve and no longer mesh well with the people we used to.
Here’s the thing – with forming your tribe or village also comes boundaries. You may have a ton of acquaintances through family or school but not everyone needs to be in your tribe. You may be friendly to everyone but not everyone needs to be your friend. Additionally, there is a ton of shaming in the parenting world. It’s okay to let go of people who no longer serve you. It’s okay to put a boundary on relationships that are no longer positive influences for you. In times of crisis, you need people who can lift you up instead of bring you down. Your energy trickles down to your child and to your partner.
Who are the people you need to let go of or see less of? There’s no need to cause a scene – simply start to quietly take some steps back. Have clarity in the kind of people you want to surround yourself with and do not bend.
Our kiddos get overstimulated very easily and need extra support in social settings. When going through a challenging period of time, they need their world to get quiet and to spend quality time with you. During these times especially, you will need to make your world quieter too. Which members of the tribe will understand? Who can you call upon for words that make you feel better? Which members do you need to weed out?
What has your experience been? Do you feel your tribe needs some spring cleaning? Let me know in the comments below.