Behind Every Great Parent is a Supportive Community

Andrea (second from right) with her niece Teja, sister Kate, niece Hannah and mother Margie in December 2017
Andrea (second from right) with her niece Teja, sister Kate, niece Hannah and mother Margie in December 2017

In January of this year, my husband and I welcomed our first child, Noah, to the world. Our joy was unimaginable. Could it be? Our wish for a child had come true? He was more precious to us than diamonds. We wrapped him in a silky blanket and called him our “Torah scroll.” I wanted fill up his cup with love every day.

Yet with the elation came the reality of an astoundingly long list of new tasks. New parents have to cope with the postpartum recovery, lack of sleep and caring for a new person 24/7.

Nothing can change those tough first few weeks (and months) like a small word of encouragement or gesture of appreciation. Grandparents are usually great at this, and we are incredibly fortunate that both sets of our parents have come to visit and support us from across the country or even the Atlantic Ocean. The reality is that many new parents today do not live close to their family members. In the midst of such personal upheaval and change, a lack of support can feel isolating.

My partner and I are fortunate to be part of several amazing networks of support here in Palo Alto. One of the biggest things that made a difference in our early parenting lives was being part of a community.

Our community sent us postpartum care packages. Friends and coworkers were there with baby clothes, baby books and baby furniture. Our community set up a MealTrain of delicious home-cooked meals delivered right to our door. Our community was there to listen. Our community was there to celebrate. Our community was there to love. And we are so thankful.

That support gave us confidence, encouragement and reassurance in the early days of parenthood.

If you’re looking to build up your own network of support, I recommend being part of different communities—the Oshman Family JCC is a great place to start. Volunteer with the OFJCC Center for Social Impact, attend a seminar or take Baby Sign Language classes. You’ll meet other people, make new friends and feel part of something bigger than yourself.

There are many paths to being a great parent, but being part of a community makes it that much easier to be on any of them.

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Andrea Longini

Written by Andrea Longini

Andrea Longini calls herself the Communications Manager at the OFJCC. She also calls her family long distance in Pittsburgh and her in-laws even longer distance in Belgium. She believes part of living fully is staying in touch with people you care about. An example of how this can be done is by sending them links to meaningful blog posts. Now that's what she calls communicating!

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