In recent years there has been a growing movement among mothers, finding your “tribe.” Essentially this tribe is a group of like-minded individuals who share your parenting values and will be there as a source of support as you raise your children together. It may look like play dates at the park, meetups at coffee shops or the library, hiking trails together with babies strapped to your backs, stroller exercising together, or any other scenario you could imagine.
This “tribe” movement has garnered a lot of support, but also some pushback, particularly from those who feel this adds to the already immense amount of pressure placed on new parents…it isn’t enough to have to manage a newborn, but now I have to find a “tribe” too!?
So the question is: Do moms really need a tribe?
The answer to this question isn’t black and white. There is no clear “yes they do” or “no they don’t.” As a parenting coach, and a therapist whose focus is on attachment, my answer to this question is… both.
The fact of the matter is that human beings are a social species. We crave connection with one another and often find that when attachment is disturbed, or we are removed from healthy connection with others, that there is a rise in mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety. When parents have support, they often feel less stressed, more capable, more confident in their parenting skills, and are able to provide more nurturing and responsive care to their children. What that support looks like can be varied. Support can come in the form of supportive family members and friends, in services provided by the community, or support groups or clubs which bring together parents in the community. Some parents are even able to find that support through online environments such as moms groups or online support meetings.
Every day I hear from moms about how they feel that they are not able to “do it all.” How they feel like they are failing at motherhood, how they are stressed and worried about how their interactions with their children are, and how they just struggle to handle the various challenges that come with each stage of parenting. The reality is that we are all struggling in one way or another. We all have hard days, days when we feel like we are terrible at parenting, days when we feel lost, days when we cry right alongside our children because it is just so hard. And a large part of why it is so hard is because, WE WERE NOT MEANT TO PARENT ALONE. Humans thrive when we are in connection with others. The reason why this “tribe” mentality gained such momentum is because it spoke to something deep within us, something that said, “yes! I need support!” Both children and parents thrive when we have a supportive network, filled with others at various stages of the life cycle, with whom we can rely on in times of need and who we can support in return. These individuals serve as “alloparents” to our children, adults in their lives who care about them, nurture them, and develop secure attachment with them. And those “alloparents” provide parents with the breaks, reassurance, guidance, and encouragement that we crave as we navigate our parenthood journeys.
Do we need a “tribe” of like-minded individuals, who we feel we fit in just right with? It is nice, but it is not necessary. Your “people” could be ones whose parenting strategies do not perfectly align with yours, but despite that, they are there to listen, offer encouragement, and support you regardless of your parenting decisions. Can we parent in isolation? Yes, of course we can, we are strong, and we can persevere through more than we probably recognize. But it makes the journey easier if you have a support network.
If you do not have a good support network here are some suggestions of places to look:
- MOMS Club International (there are many chapters around the Nashville area)
- MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers, but they have parents with a range of children’s age)
- Church groups for moms
- Church communities (there are many individuals that may have older children or are older themselves and would love to offer help to parents)
- In your neighborhood (so many of us don’t know our neighbors, but building relationships with our neighbors can provide a great support network)
- Online parenting groups, like Music City Moms (these communities may offer a source of support and often local moms will post reaching out to set up play dates)
- Be welcoming to others in public, you never know when you strike up a conversation with someone at a play ground, park, coffee shop, or library if it could turn into a friendship.