By Lavonne Kroeker, PHEc
Even though my background is home economics and more specifically family studies so I am familiar with early childhood development, these videos really blew me away. In particular, the references by the researchers to the ways in which children are impacted by their surroundings in the first year of life. It really is amazing to think about all the learning and absorbing these little ones do in those 12 months. These months also pose some of the greatest challenges for parents, particularly those going down that path for the first time. There is so much to adjust to and most of it is done without the benefit of being well-rested and refreshed!
This brings home the point that there is room for so much more than just the parents’ influence in a little one’s life. Traditionally this comes from extended families – doting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who are all nearby and involved or from neighbours who are ready and willing to lend a helping hand. Increasingly this is not the case for new families and other supports need to be fostered. In particular, as referred to in the video, the population of immigrants in Canada is growing. For these young families, there are many factors that may contribute to them feeling isolated and alone on their parenting journey.
In our part of the country, in particular, families can truly be isolated if they live in rural locations and do not have access to transportation. For some, raising a family means they are not participating in the workforce, limiting their opportunities to get to know their communities and the language spoken in their new location. This can make simple, necessary tasks of caring for young children particularly challenging.
It is great to see that there are an increasing number of family resource programs happening. These programs are usually no cost or low cost and provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with other parents. They also provide children with a chance to interact with other children and in the midst of winter, a warm place to be active! There is also the chance to learn about other resources in the community, consult with other parents or professionals about issues of concern or to learn a new activity to practice with your child.
Check out your local programming guide, the newspaper, your community’s online portal or talk to other parents. The daycare or recreation office in your community might also have ideas of where to connect with programs for young families. There is also a tab for “Finding FRPs” on the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs website (www.frp.ca). Perhaps this will be one of your resolutions for 2012!
Parenting is a big job with huge results in our kids – thankfully it is not something you need to do on your own. Draw on the positive supports in your own circle of family, friends and neighbours or take some time early in the new year to discover who and what is waiting for you in your community.
As a professional home economist, Lavonne Kroeker has worked in a wide variety of settings – an adult learning centre, child welfare, private industry and since 2007, as a Rural Leadership Specialist with Mantioba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Her job involves “creating leaders” in rural communities – whether its supporting volunteer 4-H leaders, chairing a Safety Day committee, developing programming for women in business or organizing training for farm women, there is never a dull day! Besides her day job, Lavonne enjoys volleyball, biking, creative pursuits and almost any outdoor activity!