It takes a village to raise a child: the importance of community
The reason they say it takes a village is that we humans need that connection to thrive. We are not meant to “do it all” in isolation. Here are some tips on finding your community
Village for raising children
Why I started The Confused Mother
This is one of the reasons I started my work as well. I wanted to create more community and real connection along with being a companion to parents in Berlin. I really missed it during my pregnancy during lockdown but now that we have some local friends who we spend time with regularly, I realise how enriching that is and how much I missed it.
Life in Germany can be isolating for international families, especially if you’re new here or don’t have many friends who are also parents like you. When we don’t have family living nearby, the whole task of raising your child(ren), household chores, and work falls on you.
If you have the financial means for it, it’s worth considering spending money to hire help. Having someone who can clean the apartment every couple of weeks, a babysitter once in a while, or someone who cooks can alleviate some of the stress and give you more time to focus on yourself and your children.
However, building a support system is equally important. Finding other parents to connect with can make a significant difference in your life as an international parent. It’s crucial to seek out fellow parents who understand the unique challenges and experiences of raising children in a foreign country. By forming connections and friendships within the community, you can provide and receive support, exchange advice, and create lasting bonds. Even children benefit from having other people in their lives who they can learn from, have fun with and consider important and trustworthy.
Here are some suggestions on how you can find a community while raising children
- Parent-Child Groups: Look for local parent-child groups in your area. These groups often organize regular meetups where parents can bring their children and engage in various activities together. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded parents, share experiences, and build a support network. Your local Familienzentrum in Berlin can offer a lot of free opportunities to do so.
- International Parenting Associations: Germany has numerous international parenting associations that cater specifically to expatriate families. These associations typically organize events, workshops, and playgroups where international parents can connect, exchange information, and create a sense of community. Facebook groups, the Meetup App and Mello are great options to find people in your area.
- Playgrounds and Parks: Visiting local playgrounds and parks with your children can provide opportunities for social interactions. Strike up conversations with other parents while your kids play together, talking about your kids with them is an easy conversation opener. You might discover common interests and establish connections that can lead to playdates and lasting friendships.
- Parenting Classes and Workshops: Many cities in Germany offer parenting classes and workshops that cover a wide range of topics, from childbirth to child development and parenting techniques, like a birthing course or a postnatal recovery course. Attending these classes not only provides you with valuable knowledge but also allows you to meet fellow parents who are in a similar stage of life. I have heard of a lot of women who are friends with the other mothers they met at such courses, years later.
- Online Communities and Social Media Groups: Utilize online platforms to connect with other parents. Join social media groups, forums, and online communities focused on parenting, expatriate life, or specific interests related to raising children. These virtual spaces can provide a sense of belonging and support, even if you’re unable to physically meet in person. Almost every main German city has an expat community you can connect with online and join their events.
Local Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals that are family-friendly. Many cities in Germany organize events specifically for families, such as street festivals, cultural celebrations, or holiday markets. Attending these events not only allows your children to have fun but also provides an opportunity for you to meet other parents in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. Mit Vergnügen, Visit Berlin or Exberliner for example are great resources for getting news on local events.
Building a community takes time and effort. Be open to reaching out, initiating conversations, and attending events regularly. The more you actively participate, the greater the chances of finding like-minded parents who can become part of your support system. Embrace the diversity of the international community in Germany and the wealth of experiences it offers. Together, you can navigate the challenges of raising children in a foreign country, create lasting friendships, and ensure that you and your family thrive.
I organise regular events for mothers in Berlin to meet up and share experiences. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest information.
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