GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - As part of Parenting Week, we gathered a group of parents to talk about how they raise their children in West Michigan.
13 ON YOUR SIDE's Jennifer Pascua sat down with Monica Valentine, Rachel Lee, Erin Wiseman Parkin, Bo Torres and Matt Haviland for a roundtable talk at Grand Rapids Public Library.
Today's topic: How important is it to have a tribe & to practice self-care
Adnoris "Bo" Torres, does not have children. But he is around many as the fatherhood coordinator of the "Padres Fuertes" initiative at Strong Beginnings- Healthy Start. He says:
That’s the strong beginnings program that’s the model so we work on social deterrence work on making sure they have everything they need first from a personal perspective. You have groups like the Latina Network of WM, the Latino Network of WM –cultures with big c and little c –when it comes to personal culture and broader culture. I know my niece has tons of Tios and Tias uncles and aunts they can draw off of.
Monica Valentine, a single parent to 13-year-old daughter:
[It's] very, very important. I have my parents help me. They’ve been together for 48 years. I also have some caregivers who helped me tremendously. If I have nothing to do, they’ll just take her and have her stay the night with them and she grows and learns from them as well.
Rachel Lee, a single parent to 7 and 9-year-old boys, had this to say:
We call ourselves "Mom Camp" because we actually take our kids camping. Mom Camp is "lit" is what we say. To have a strong group of girlfriends who are mothers who are leaders in their own field has been huge for me because we are each other’s support system. We watch each other’s kids We get together. We are there for each other. We’re there to support, we’re there to elevate. We’re there to celebrate.
Matt Haviland, non-custodial parent to 12-year-old daughter said:
The guys who came into my life is crucial. There are so many men and women who have strong family foundation and that’s just crucial. But if that’s not available to find that community as well.
Erin Wiseman Parkin, mother to 2- and 4-year-old boys told Jen:
If you surround yourself with the strength and the knowledge and work with other people, especially those who might do things a little differently than you, you just pick up all these delicious morsels of parenting.
In terms of self-care, Parkin said, "I don’t think we lose so much of ourselves in parenting that we give so much of ourselves". But Valentine disagreed, "When I first became a parent I felt like I lost a part of myself as a woman and as a person because I put so much in making sure this little girl had everything she needed. Emotional support, spiritual support. I did lose myself at one point and I had to give myself both.
Lee added, "It’s important for us to have events with our kids but to also have our own time. Where we can come and set intentions, affirmations, and kind of come together to really help engage and grow together". Haviland noted, "Sometimes just detaching for 30 minutes or an hour (if we’re able to get that) makes a huge point to just reset ourselves and say now I can get back to what I need to do. Parkin closed up the conversation with this reminder, "Having that cup of coffee, or talking with a friend, or journaling, or going out for a run, doing something, we have to be intentional. It might be once a week, once a day, multiple times a day if we’re lucky we can’t forget that you can’t pour from an empty cup."
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