January 23, 2018

It Takes A Village – Just Make Sure It’s the Right Village

Back in 1996, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book called “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us”. She got a lot of flack when she wrote the book, including Bob Dole’s quote “With all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” At the time, I couldn’t have agreed with Mr. Dole more. Now that I’ve got children with special needs, I’m leaning a little the other way. Not in the way Mrs. Clinton intended it, but I’ve found that when you’re trying to raise these kids, it’s imperative that you have a village to help you raise them – you just need to make sure it’s the right village!

One thing I’ve desperately learned is that I need to surround myself (and my family) with people who get what is going on specific to us. The isolation and loneliness without this only adds to the doubt that I am able to parent this child.  And don’t even get me started on the crazy that follows that.

The issue we’ve encountered has been “Who can be a good support system?” Here a few things that I have figured out which might make this easier when you are deciding.

First, start with gathering good, succinct information on what you are following as your parenting technique. Causes, symptoms, and plan must be included. Second, hand it out to those who want in your circle of support. That would include:

  • Extended family. They can be vital, ONLY if they agree to support your choices and decisions AND to follow them when they are with the child. If they cannot, unfortunately they will only make things worse. That doesn’t mean you can’t have contact with them, it just means it has to be limited and well supervised. Also, they would not be the people to call when your kiddo punches a hole in the wall!
  • People who have children with similar issues. This has by far been one of my best areas of support. One day after my sweetie went running, my friend brought me over the greatest CD of music to uplift me. And with it, I got a much needed hug. Priceless!
  • Support groups that are specific to your child’s issues. These can be found through counselors, doctors, on websites that you use for reference (which also are good if you can chat or message) or word of mouth. The information here might not be always exactly pertinent to your situation but just knowing you are not alone in your struggle is affirming.

Even if you end up with only one or two people coming alongside you, it is golden. Don’t go it alone – build yourself a village!

Could you use some parenting help?

One tool that we’ve used is the Total Transformation program by James Lehman. It’s given us a lot of solid, common sense ideas for parenting our challenging children.

About the author: By

Matt is the parent (along with his wife Julie) to five wonderful kids. He has been self-employed for 25+ years and is the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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