Being a mother or father in today's world is a tough proposition. Drugs. Violence. Divorce. Financial pressures. Inadequate child care. Even small problems can add up for parents, no matter who they are or where they live. Other challenges, like caring for a special-needs child or being a single parent, create constant stress, without letup, over a long period of time.
Parents need the support of family and friends to manage these challenges. They cannot do it alone.
Unfortunately, many parents today feel isolated from family and neighborhood. They may think that their own parents or their partners do not really understand or accept them and their problems. They may be separated by great distance from those that do. They may be too busy to cultivate friendships among their peers. When the stress of caring for children begins to pile up, they might not have anyone to talk to. If there is an emergency, they may not be able to count on anyone to help.
Being isolated and under pressure is a terrible burden, one that creates a potential hothouse effect. Stress builds and builds, diminishing the resources and capability a person has to manage a challenge. Research shows that isolation from family, friends, and community is a significant risk factor for child abuse. Dealing with the pressures of being a parent is much more difficult when no one is available to listen and provide encouragement. Feeling alone leads to depression and a breakdown in the functions of parenting. This failure of support has significant costs for any community.
Every parent needs to feel supported by others in their community. Communities do not raise children; parents do. But parents cannot raise children alone. Neighbors, community officials, and even strangers can make a significant positive impact on children by supporting and caring about parents. When parents feel this support, they can deal with the challenges of parenting more effectively.
Caring about Moms and Dads is an initiative that began with the Kansas State University Research and Extension. The focus is on building community awareness of the importance of supporting parents. The campaign is designed around the theme, Caring about Moms and Dads is Caring about Kids.
The target audience for the program is primarily community leaders, professionals of all kinds, clergy, and others who can bring the issue before the public.