What Parents are Doing Right
Addie Ladner and her family spending Easter with close friends in Florida.
Photo courtesy of Addie Ladner
“What American Parents Are Getting Wrong”
“Danish Kids Are the Happiest in the World”
“American Parenting is Killing Marriage”
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Lately, it seems that all the headlines I see are filled with negativity towards parenting in the U.S., and I’ve grown a bit tired of it all. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, but there is one area I believe we’re thriving in. From the start of your parenting journey, support and a sense of community can be found in all forms, and it doesn’t go away.
When I had my first child almost three years ago, I was quickly told about “Mommy and Me” music classes; encouraged to attend baby storytimes; given pregnancy tips; and invited to breast-feeding support groups, baby-wearing meet-ups, birthing classes and basically anything baby/pregnancy/parenting related. I even had friends set up a meal delivery train for my family the first few months after our second child came along. (And I later happily contributed to trains for other friends!)
This support continues well into parenting, whether it’s an assuring smile from a stranger at a grocery store, small talk at the park with a fellow parent or an invitation to a child’s birthday party. I hear and ask “How are you doing?” and “How’s it going?” over and over. Parents in this country support other parents. Even parents who don’t want to (or can’t) get out as much can find support on social media, especially those endless and awesome Scary Mommy articles. And don’t forget about the variety of organizations out there to help parents in need.
I have met, laughed and even cried with parents of all races, ages, religions, sexual orientations, working, not working, older, younger, etc. I’m aware that I’m fortunate to be raising kids in a city known for its family friendliness, which has made my first few years as a parent a very positive one — and for my husband, as well. Yet, the many times I’ve ventured out of state with kids in tow, I’ve still witnessed or been the recipient of support in various ways. I have had some of the best conversations with moms I’ve never seen again, yet we happened to be at the same place that day, and we both were what each other needed right then — to be able to relate. I have become friends with amazing women who started out as my “mom friends” and now they are just my friends. I know that I can reach out to any of them on any given day and they will be there. I now look forward to getting together with them minus kids, lots of wine.
No job, social status, soul-searching trip around the world, advanced degree or years of being a nanny can prepare you for having your own children. The latter might give you a bit of perspective and a few tricks, but it won’t excuse you from the perils of parenting. No matter what you’ve done in your life before kids, even if you are the Duchess of Cambridge, nothing will exempt you from a tired, teething, clingy baby or an embarrassing toddler having an off day. You’re not excused from pregnancy problems, the heartbreak of miscarriage or breast-feeding issues. When you have children, you are starting from ground zero, and we are all on the same playing field. You will need support whether you want to admit it or not. When they say it takes a village, it really does — parents in the U.S. understand that and we take care of one another. We value the village, the tribe — and I’m proud to raise my children here.
Addie lives in Raleigh with her husband, two young children and beagle mix. She enjoys doing all the things she rarely has time for, such as reading, writing, fine dining, gardening and exploring the world around her. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter or check out her new food blog, Grace-Gourmet.com.