We were never supposed to do this alone. Raising a child was something that the whole tribe likely would have taken a role in. And as for the mother, she would’ve been surrounded by others who had either been there before, or ones who were in the same boat as she was. My point being, if you’re struggling because you’re doing this on your own, then it’s because you were never supposed to.
One thing we both regret from the early days of having Isabelle is not immediately going to whatever groups we could attend. I’ll admit, that we probably didn’t even think about it. We had never done this before, Isabelle is our first child, so we were more focused on working out what the hell we were doing, rather than thinking about what groups we could attend. But they’re incredibly beneficial.
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, then I highly recommend the breastfeeding support groups. They’ve given Rachel the confidence to feed without the cover, and for those who are thinking about giving it up, then there’s lots of support from mothers who likely saw plenty of difficulties themselves. Breastfeeding itself is likely to reduce feeling of depression due to its oxytocin release, among other benefits, so going to these groups, and gaining the confidence to keep it up will give you the rewards down the line.
It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at with your child though, you can still probably attend some sort of parenting group.
Why They’re So Beneficial
As well as simply getting you out of the house, these parenting groups: sensory play, breastfeeding group, massage, and plenty more, all give you the same thing. People who have been through what you’re going through and the support to help you through it.
We are community based creatures, and being isolated from people for long periods of time is incredibly harmful to our health. We’re also far more likely to exacerbate our problems when we fail to broaden our perceptive. When you find yourself talking to other parents and hearing about their struggles, it can easily make you feel at ease with your own. Having that I’m not alone feeling will certainly help lift your spirits.
Not only that, but there’s also a chance you’ll make new friends who are in a similar position to you. One thing new parents often find is a sense of abandonment from old friends once they have the baby. All of a sudden you can’t go out as much, go to whatever social occasions you once frequented, and instead you’re stuck inside on a Friday night with a baby who wants to scream. Yes, they might come around a lot at first, much like family; at the end of the day a new baby is a wonderful novelty. But people will soon drift back into old patterns once the baby becomes old news. It’s happened to us, and I dare say we’re not the only ones.
But there’s no sense in thinking too much on it. You can’t control how people feel, and all you can do is be there for those who want to be involved.
If you’ve never been to these parenting groups, then I highly suggest that you give them a go. If you’re the father in all this, then yes you can, and should, still go. I’ll admit, I hardly ever see a dad at these groups, and I went on a weekly basis during the first 6 months or so of Isabelle’s life. In total, I’ve probably been to around 25-30 classes as of this writing, and in all that time I’ve only ever seen one other dad. Admittedly they are all mid-day and mid-week, so a lot of people work at these times, I on the other hand have every Tuesday off and finish work by 2:30pm every day, so I’m in a position where I can go. It’s one of the perks of being a postman.
At the end of the day, it’s worth a shot. They’re often free, so you won’t be out of pocket, and you’ll be surrounded by helpful, experienced people who know how you feel. If you happen to find yourself in a group with judgemental parents who look down on you for whatever reason, then simply give that group a miss and find another. Don’t let a bad experience put you off them completely.
If you want other suggestions to try to go alongside local support, then feel free to check out the Toolkit I’ve made.