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.
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.
There are also forces at work in the community to make it difficult for strangers to gather socially and form friendships.
This isolation contributes significantly to parent stress. Research shows, for example, 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.
Every parent needs to feel supported by another parent who cares. ParentShare brings parents together in a partnership of support. The program is administered primarily through county extension offices in collaboration with other community agencies and organizations. It was designed for mothers and fathers of all ethnic backgrounds living in both rural and urban areas.
Mothers and fathers who have raised at least one child to adulthood serve as mentors for parents and other caretakers who need support. They are recruited from the community of the parents targeted by the program. Mentors volunteer to commit approximately two hours per week to their parent-partner and meet approximately once a month as a mentor group to support each other.
Parents who participate in the program may have children at any age, whether they are infants or adolescents. There is no cost for their participation. Any father or mother who feels isolated and/or needs support is welcome to participate.