Back in March we started our blog series on the Strengthening Family Framework and the Five Protective Factors. If you missed it, you can read our blog on Parental Resilience here.
This month we’ll talking about Social Connections and why they are so important to your family. According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy “Social connections: Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support.” So what does that mean exactly? I loved how the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County explained it on their handout for the protective factors, “Friends, family members, neighbors, and other members of a community provide emotional support and concrete assistance to parents. Social connections help parents build networks of support that serve multiple purposes: they can help parents develop and reinforce community norms around child-rearing, provide assistance in times of need, and serve as a resource for parenting information or help solving problems. Because isolation is a common risk factor for abuse and neglect, parents who are isolated need support in building positive friendships.”
So many people struggle to make meaningful social connections when they start having children. Let’s face it, being a parent is exhausting and most us are more worried about keep this little person alive than making friends, but the truth is, we should be just as concerned about making one or two close friendships. Having someone to talk to, even if it’s just a quick text. It really can help brighten your day when you’ve been knee deep in diapers, bottles and laundry.
I was lucky during my time in the the Air Force that I always had a built in support system and friends through my job. We were all away from home and became each others’ family. But, as I started having kids and eventually got out of the military, priorities change and I started to isolate myself. I’m also pretty introverted, it took me a couple different tries to find something that was the right fit for me. The PTO wasn’t my thing, I didn’t feel comfortable just showing up at a playgroups, I started out helping with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and then I did join Mops (Mothers of Preschoolers). I eventually event went to a Bunco group I found on Facebook and I connected with a fantastic group of ladies.
After almost 10 years in Michigan, I have a great core group of friends that I could call to grab my kids in a pinch, we have similar parenting styles, and I love spending time with them, even we can only do it ever 2 or 3 months. I just feel better after I see them, even if it’s just for an hour or two. It is so nice finally having those connections and support system that I didn’t realize I needed to help make my family strong.
If you’re having trouble making those social connections, consider coming out to one of the many free events we’ll be offering this summer or to our Parent Network Meetings this fall. We’d love to help you explore your social connections.
Vanessa Armstrong is one of our Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start. Before joining Lenawee Great Start, Vanessa worked as a photographer and served in the United States Air Force of 10 years. She is a Florida native who has been living in Tecumseh with her husband Sean and their 3 children, Keira, Cooper and Harper since 2010.by