All parents need support. It can come from your family and friends, health and child care professionals, and information and community resources. Often, the first steps in getting support are asking for it, and accepting it when it’s offered.
Why support is important
Parents who seek and accept support:
- are more relaxed and healthier. This means they’re better able to look after their children
- set a good example for their children. Getting support teaches children that you don’t have to do it alone. It’s OK to ask for help when you need to
- show other people that they are valued and needed. Many people actually like being asked for help – it makes them feel they’re special to you.
Giving others support is a great way of creating a support community. When you offer or ask for help, others feel that they can ask you for help in return.
Types of support
All parents need three kinds of support.
This is help with the day-to-day realities of parenting and functioning as a family. Examples of this kind of support include money, babysitters, help in case of emergencies, assistance with transport, help with household tasks, and people to have fun with.
People who could provide this kind of support could include your extended family, friends, teachers, principals, coaches, club leaders, neighbours, religious leaders, parents of your children’s friends, and so on.
If you need to look outside your community for practical support, try our legal and financial links and government links and resources.
This is support for you as a person. You often get it from your adult friendships and relationships. The most valuable personal support comes from people who are available, willing to listen and share ideas and advice, and talk things over in positive and non-judgmental ways.
It can be particularly helpful to find someone who is in the same position as you and who shares things in common. You might find good friends through first-time parent groups or through your kindergarten or school.
Because parenting involves learning on the job, getting good information is critical for every parent.
Whether you’re wondering about breastfeeding, changes to your body, managing your time or your child’s latest developments, you can look to other parents and friends. You can check your local library for recommended books.
Sometimes different people will give your different advice. So consider any new ideas and ask yourself: does this sound right? What will work best for me and my child? If the topic is one of serious concern, think about who is giving the advice and whether they’re qualified.
There are many sources of information on raising children. This website is a good start. Information and support is also available from:
This short video offers information on the resources that can help parents look after babies and raise children. The video notes that extended family and friends can be a great source of support. Also, a clinical nurse specialist talks about Tresilian, Australia’s largest child and family health organisation. There are many other resources available nationwide that can help you with parenting issues.
Develop relationships with people you can trust, including parents you admire and trained professionals you can speak to about health or social welfare concerns. This can begin before you become a parent.
When you need professional help
Support from people in your social network is crucial in the long term. But there will be times when you need more formal support. It’s always best to check with a professional if you:
- have a serious concern or are worried about any aspect of your child’s health, development or behaviour
- have tried strategies suggested on this website or in books and are still having trouble
- are having persistent feelings of depression, anger or resentment towards your child
- are frequently fighting with your partner, having fights that aren’t resolved, or if there is violence in your relationship.
To make a start, check out our professional links page
, call your local parent advice line, visit your community health centre, or speak with your maternal and child health nurse or GP.