Support for parents: why it’s important
Raising children is an important job. Looking after yourself will help you do the job well. An essential part of looking after yourself is getting support for parenting and raising children.
All parents need formal and informal support from others at times. Seeking and accepting support is good for you and your child in many ways:
- You’ll be relaxed and healthier, which means you’re better able to look after your child.
- You set a good example for your child. If your child sees you getting support, they’ll be more likely to ask for help if they need it.
- You show other people that they’re valued and needed. People often like to be asked for help – it makes them feel they’re special to you.
As you think about where you can get support, you can also think about how you can support others. Giving others support is a great way of creating a support network. When you offer or ask for help, others feel that they can ask you for help in return.
What you need for a support network activity
You need something to write on – like a large piece of paper, a notebook or a computer or tablet.
How to do a support network activity: 3 steps
1. Map your support network
- Get a big piece of paper. Draw a table like the one below. You can download and print a PDF version of the table. You could also make a table on your computer if you prefer.
- Think about the people who are closest to you – for example, family and close friends. Write down their names, their relationship to you and the support they can give you. For example, can they help with practical things? Or give you advice about your child’s behaviour? Or could you chat with them about problems?
- Think about other people in your community. This could be extended family, neighbours, people at a parents group, or parents of your child’s friends. Write down their names, their relationship to you and the support they can give you.
- If you have a child with disability or other additional needs, think about people who could or want to help but need information or training. For example, could you show people how to give medicines, or could you share strategies for managing your child’s behaviour?
- Think about professionals and other people whose jobs are to help you and your child. They might be teachers, doctors or support workers. Write down their names, their relationship to you and your child and the support they can give you.
Role and relationship to you
Support they can give
Information or training needed
Listen to me and have fun together
Wants to babysit but a bit nervous
Training to use an Epi Pen
My mother-in-law’s sister
Has offered to babysit
Jenny, Alex, Kai, Nila
Friendship, advice, group exercise
Remi’s friend’s mum
Car pooling for football training
Advice on temper tantrums
2. Reflect on your support network
Once you’ve added people to the table, you can ask yourself some questions:
- Have I got enough people in my support network?
- Is their support useful?
- Are there other people I’d like to connect with?
- Are there local community groups I’d like to join?
- Are there any gaps in my support?
- Do I need help finding out about supports and services?
3. Put your support network into action
When you’ve mapped your support network and identified people you’d like to connect with, you can start using your network to get and give support.
It can help to set yourself small goals for getting support. For example:
- At my next appointment, I’ll talk to my child and family health nurse about how I’m feeling.
- I’ll thank Hamza for doing my shopping and offer to do the same for him.
Sharing ideas with someone can help you create a support network that works well for you. You could share ideas with your partner, if you have one, or a trusted family member.