Parental support comes in many ways!
Hey parents, listen up, you need support too!
Recently through the survey I did with a few migrant families, one of the biggest struggles that parents mentioned was the lack of support from family members and extended family when they left the comfort of their home town and ventured out on their own into a new country.
I fully appreciate where they are coming from. Where I come from, we grew up in a big family, where we had aunties, grandparents and extended families around us. We always had relatives around the home, and friends just around the corner.
As for my own family, we had my grandparents at home with us, while my parents worked. My grandparents would help with the day to day running of the house, i.e. my grandfather helped with “entertaining” trades people when they turned up to repair the house, and my grandmother was in charge of our meals and supervising our domestic helper.
So, when my parents came home from work, they could fully focus on resting or took over the child caring from my grandparents, and they did not have to stress about the chores at home.
How wonderful would that be?
You see, I was brought up with the belief that families are meant to support each other and help each other. Raising children is meant to involve the extended family like the one I had.
However, nowadays, we see less of our extended families and friends around. Families are more of a nuclear family or a single parent family structure, like families moving overseas. This is the case when we chose to settle in Australia, we were on our own to fend for ourselves.
It was great when both of us were working full time, however the challenges began when we started a family… that was a whole new learning curve that we had never experienced.
Thinking back of all the support I grew up with and the interactions with our extended families, our children only had us to support them.
So what do you do when you are far away from the support you were used to?
How do you look after your young family?
Do we have a choice?
Yes we did. It all have choices!
We could move back home to Malaysia and seek the comfort of our family to support us, or we could improvise, adapt and adopt!
Since we made the choice to be on our own, there was no point whining about. We had to believe that support is everywhere, and allow ourselves to be open and embrace new opportunities.
You need not have the fixed idea that you have to have the extended family around for support – yes, it would be nice, but you don’t have to rely on that.
You can "adopt" other measures of support, and below are a few suggestions where you can find your support network and maybe lifelong friends:
Become involved with your local mothers’ group if you have one in your area. I have a good friend who I still keep in touch with – we have known each other since mothers’ group – meeting more than 22 years ago when our first child was born.
We met up every other week then, cooked for each other, and shared our ups and downs together. We started our journey together in Melbourne and then to Sydney. Our families still meet up at least once every year.
When we moved to Sydney from Melbourne, I had to re-establish my network and friends. For the first few weeks, I took my children to various play groups in the neighbouring suburbs, to get to know the area as well as to integrate into the community and make new friends.
Parents from preschools or occasional care
Connect with parents from your child care or occasional care centre. Make an effort to attend gatherings at schools, or stay back after dropping your children to school or childcare and get to know your local neighbours, or go through local volunteering groups.
When my children started school and whenever it was grandparents day at school, my dear neighbours, David and Jane (Jane is still supporting me and is on the mailing list) would go on my parents’ or parents in laws’ behalf. They were the adopted grandparents for my two grandchildren during my children’s schooling days.
Parents, you need support no matter where you are. It may not be the same like when you were growing up with extended families around, but you can still find your support around you. Know that you can create the “adopted” extended family where-ever you are. All you need is to believe that you can; reach out and commit to making a go of your new life in your community and country. You just have to reach out, be proactive, and make a conscious effort to connect with your community.
Believe that you can and you will find the support that you need. If you need to talk, I am just a click away – connect with me via Facebook Page.
Have a FUN day with your family and make your kitchen the "go to" fun place for your family.