Kathy Masarie MD, Author of Raising Our Daughters and Raising Our Sons which you can find by clicking here , says that in today's society more than ever it is vital for parents and children to maintain their connection.
1. You say “Connections Are Key For Kids” - what connections are you talking about?
I am talking about three connections that are important:
a. Connection of parents with their child
b. Connection of a child with other adults
c. Connection of parents with other parents – an untapped resource
2. Why are all these connection so important?
We live in a culture that is tearing the family apart, pulling each of us in different directions- toward long hours at work, long hours on the soccer field, long hours at school and with homework. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, goes so far as to say we live in a “toxic culture,” that does values profit more that it values children’s well-being.
Close connections with the neighborhood, school, and families that share common interests with yours can counter- balance these forces that tear our family apart.
3. Why isn’t the family enough for our kids? Why do they need a village?
a. There is research that shows that the family cannot provide all the ingredients kids need to be resilient – they need to feel like their community cares about and values them, have connections to other adults, be empowered by volunteer opportunities, be inspired to learn, make good choices in friendships… all of these are built outside the family.
b. Mary Pipher, stole lilacs when she was 8 and everyone in the community for the next two weeks said “I heard you stole lilacs from Mr Browns yard. She learned accountability here. Today- guy yells at kids stealing lilacs, they yell back- hate each other… a lot of accountability is just knowing a kids name
4. How can we build these connections for our family
a. Live by “connect with kids” whenever you can
b. Smile at every kid you see for the rest of your life
c. Start neighborhood/family potlucks, camping trips
d. May day collage of kids in neighborhood
e. Volunteer in the school with after school clubs, girls night out events, bike safety fair- anything that brings community together
f. I have a book ROD and ROS filled with ideas on building community for our kids
5. Why do parents need to connect with other parents?
a. What the research shows and what parents feel is a desperately need for the help and support of others – adults, schools, neighborhoods and communities – to ensure the success and healthy development of their children. But parents are exhausted by what is already on our plate and don’t exactly know what to do.
b. When our kids were little we had lots of support from other parents: we openly shared our struggles with other parents in our babysitting coops or play dates. As our kids got older, we all got busier and we became embarrassed about what our kids were doing. Talking about how your kid was caught drinking or skipping school may send the other parent flying, to “keep their kid away from yours.”
c. When parents support each other in deep, honest, meaningful ways they build that community of support our kids must have to thrive.
6. How can parents connect with each other?
a. Again this can be as easy as having coffee with your friends or the parents of your kids’ friends every week or two.
b. You could start your own parent discussion group- that focuses on a topic or a book every month
c. ROD and ROS are books that are designed for parent discussion group. Parents read one of ten chapters a month and take turns leading the discussion, using the discussion questions in each chapter as a guide. You can only get these books on the website by clicking here.
d. One thing I love about any of these formats is that when other parents know your kids through what you have shared, they are naturally more interested in them and reach out to connect with them. And you are more interested in their kids and how to support them. It builds the community you want right there.