Find your parenting tribe

Does it really take a village to raise a child?

Maybe.

But sometimes it doesn't really feel like the "village" even exists anymore. With nearly a half million people in the Quad Cities, it can be hard to connect. And all of the new experiences that come with parenting can be overwhelming.

Birth. Eating. Walking. Talking. The list of "firsts" goes on and on.

"Having a child is completely different than what you think it will be," says Randi Rockwell of Rock Island. "When my daughter was born, I had to seek help and reinforcement."

And Randi isn't alone. Research has shown that the support of friends, family and the community can make parents more effective.

So, go beyond the village. Instead, build your own tribe.

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A parenting tribe is a group of other parents who you can count on for support in your parenting journey. This means you can rely on your tribe to listen, give advice, support and celebrate.

In prehistoric times, you'd be born into a tribe. This tribe would protect you, support you, and be with you through thick and thin.

In the 21st century, it's just as important to build your own tribe. It may be easy to "connect" online or get information from websites or forums. But it's even more important to have true, in-person support.

Because Google isn't always the best listener. And Google doesn't always give you the most relevant advice.

But your tribe can.

Here are a few tips for developing your own network of other parents.

Make it a priority.

Life can get busy, and many parents put off the task of building a network. But, it's something that is worth the time and effort.

"As a working parent, my tribe is incredibly important to me," says Abbie Kiebler of Bettendorf.

Sara White, Eldridge, agrees. "It helps me remember that I'm not alone. Others have gone through what I'm going through."

And just like tribes around the globe, your tribe may be with you for years to come. Sheri Zeck of Milan connected with her support group when all of their kids were babies. "Now many of us have teenagers," she says.

Start with who you know.

Maybe you already have friends or acquaintances who you feel comfortable confiding in. Start by rekindling these friendships.

A great place to begin is Facebook - where you may realize your high school friend is now in the area and a parent, too.

Be vulnerable.

You may not feel comfortable approaching a stranger and asking, "Will you be my friend?"