Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation. ~Margaret Mead
This past Sunday, our minister cited some studies in her discussion of Father's Day and family. In the 1970's, when asked if people had someone to share their most personal problems with, on average each person had three others they could turn to. In a more recent study, the mode was 0. This means that in 40 years, as a society, our ability to make friendships and rely on others has diminished.
As I listened to these statistics, I realize how lucky I am. I am still in touch with my three best friends from high school (one I've known since kindergarten). I often think to call them when having issues with my children or husband. I have two very close friends that I've known almost since my first child was born. We joke about our communal dinners and parenting, but all jokes aside, it is a precious thing. We just moved to a neighborhood that had other families and I am starting to develop support networks here. While my parents live two hours away, I know in times of crisis, they will make the drive and help us out. On top of that, we have friends and acquaintances from church who are supportive in many ways.
I would not be the parent I am without the loving support of these people. They cheer me on when I get overwhelmed, they provide a sounding board for me when I'm unsure of my self, and they're strong enough to tell me when I'm wrong or over-reacting.
I don't know how some people do it alone. I couldn't imagine the level of stress I would have without the support of friends and family. It really does, to be cliche, take a village. And yet, in many places, people are isolated. Not geographically, but, self-imposed. As a society, we've become more inwardly focused and more fearful of involvement with others. Because we have become such a mobile society, we no longer live near our extended families. In many neighborhoods people come home and never interact with their neighbors.
Statistically, parents without good support outside of the family are more likely to be abusive. I can see why. There are days when my children just bug me to death and I feel like I'm at my wits end with them. But, I always know there is someone who is willing to come over and talk, be there on the phone, or even take them for a bit if I really need. It is good to travel this journey with others and know I am not alone.