Michele Coleman, Ph. D. LMFT
This month has been very stressful for me as my partner had to be hospitalized. As I have tried to juggle home, work and visiting him in the hospital I realize how much I need a community. The other day I went to a local coffee shop and as I juggled my stuff while filling my cup with coffee, I dropped the lid. I had not noticed. The woman behind me picked it and gave it to me indicating that it was dirty. The coffee shop employee offered to wash the top for me. As I turned around and gazed at both of them with such gratitude for them pulling in close and taking care of me, I said out loud to them, “Thank you so much! I need a village to help me do this adult thing.”
So often we hear the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I am now believing it takes a village to do this adult thing too. At every stage of my life it seems as if I need a community. As you open your home to a youth in need, you too will need support. Over the years whenever we offered a Parent Group, the parents never seemed to leave after the last group. After one series of trainings I was baffled and said to the parents who despite ending the class, and giving out the certificates and applauding them for their hard work, I noticed were all still sitting there waiting for something, “What?! Why are you all still sitting here?” One brave father answered, “Michele, when we leave here no one will understand what we are going through. This is the first time I actually felt heard and understood. How are we to get that after we leave?”
During this time of preparation for your youngster I invite you to identify a few key people who will be willing to support you by attending classes with you to gain an understanding of the needs your child will present for you to handle so they can support you rather than judge you or tell you what to do ... which by the way will be the exact opposite of what is needed. Support is critical. Some qualities for those key people include the ability to listen to you without judgment with an eye towards validating your experience. This key support person will not take your call for help as an invitation to unload on you all of their issues. He or she will be able to keep the focus on your need. You are the most important person in your child’s life as You are the one who will be working to bring about a healing from the pain he or she has endured.