My parent network – a web of resources

web with raindropsIt’s interesting that when you become a parent you think of all the places you want your children to find. You imagine them joining the local soccer and baseball teams or the dance class. Perhaps your kids will do things with other kids from the neighborhood or the community or be part of a church group. You think about the local fundraising entities in the schools like the PTA, The Mothers Club or the Principal breakfasts. You also hope to connect to parents who are waiting for the famous, “Book of parenting “that you swear you ordered.

Reality hits. Oh, here comes the curve ball. You have a unique child, maybe one, maybe two or even more than that. You are different. Your life becomes a world of IEPs, clinical appointments, books about parenting “different children”, internet searches and even a parenting class or support group designed for people like you. Yes, your child is unique– society would call them complex. As a parent, you also become unique and different. What you imagined you would connect to doesn’t match your needs. Now you have to search to find something else to connect to. What is it? What do you call it? Why can’t you google to find it?

I did that one time and when you google “parent network” you’ll probably find groups of parents whose kids have serious medical illnesses, sometimes chronic, often long lasting, that may end in something terrible.

Is this supposed to give me strength?

Whether you are a first time parent, a beginner or an advanced or crisis parent, let me give you my understanding of what will help. It’s a real parent network. I call it the Web of Resources, my web of strength and the group I hold close to me to help me stay on track. There is one thing to remember when you join: they will be like no one else. Your best friend, biological family, therapist, doctors, siblings, and sometimes your partner, spouse or long-term relationship may not know them, need them or use them. But you – the advocate, the ally, the resources, the finder of information- you will need them more than you know.

You build the Web of Resources one by one, connection by connection because you need them all.

For me, this is how it began and continues until today. I met my first two fearless advocates in Connecticut. They were from Massachusetts and knew what a psychotic break was, which caught my attention. I continue to keep them close and they have helped me survive. I call them my Western Mass group. Second, I found peers that had experienced school issues and education. They will remain in my life forever. One from Massachusetts, another from Michigan while a third is from Alaska. Next are my medical friends, many from Family Voices, local in Boston, and then more across the state. Finally, are my friends from the mental health and residential worlds — thanks to you all in many different locations. Some have written books, others just stay local and run support groups, and others remain on speed dial for me. You have to give back what you take in this web, because the food that you give each other is nothing more powerful than knowledge, laws, and strategies.

The web is growing. As my children become adults, I reach out in a new area to peers like them to teach me how to be involved with my adult child- because they will remain my children. That being said, I follow YouthMOVE Massachusetts and they are the last of my parenting resources and important in my web.

For me the Web of Resources is about feeling whole. Without it, I would feel incomplete. I would not be nourished again and again so I can walk down the path of parenting. This is my long overdue “thank you” to the many people who make that web for me. They have helped me learn who I am and what I can and cannot do for my children. Turns out, my children will be okay. And so will I because of all of you.

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6 thoughts on “My parent network – a web of resources

  1. This article describes my life as I reached out trying to make sense of my daughters reactions to the world. With four other children who didn’t have the same issues I knew I would need to parent her differently. No one close to me understood that she could be different from her siblings. They said I needed to be tougher on her and all kinds of other things that didn’t work.
    So I had to surround myself with people who understood. Now that she is grown and a mother herself, I am finding my support network is still standing strong behind me and my g

  2. I love this blog! Many years ago a group of parents had a list serve that I stumbled upon and their experiences were so similar to mine, they gave be great strength and perseverance. I am also grateful to many adults who made their own way in the world despite negative predictions and diagnosis. There are so many ways to be in the world if only you can resist the expectations to be something your are not.

  3. I am so grateful that you, and the PPAL family have strengthened my journey, and are an important piece of my extensive multi-systems web!! THANK YOU!!! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the wonderful comments. Often time it is so hard when we are a “unique” group of people. As all of you know the web is the navigation for us all.. Like that GPS that you need on occassion- except this web tells you when the road blocks are coming, what detour to take or if it is better to restart the next day.

    I continue to meet those parents that are so alone- not only in isolation- but that alone feeling when no one is like you or your family. That alone feeling is soooo very different !

    Our web is strong- keep yours just as tight!!

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