This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own.
One of my goals as a mom is to raise a healthy, well-grounded boy who hopefully will become a great asset to society. Parenting is not always easy, and sometimes it is true what they say: "It takes a village to raise a child." People need people and resources to provide children with safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments
As you know, I have advocated before on how parents should educate themselves about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Preventing adverse childhood experiences, such as violence or abuse, will improve a child’s lifelong health. Bad or stressful events cannot always be prevented; however, providing kids with safe, stable, and nurturing environments can reduce ACEs’ negative impact, such as chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse. Our healthy relationships provide a buffer from toxic stress.
In the past, I have told you how one way to help prevent ACEs is to #findyour3. Your "three" are the people who can provide safe, supportive relationships. I got support from my three when growing up, and I have worked with my son to find his three. I do know that sometimes, we tend to take things very literally, and you shouldn't focus on the "three." Instead, focus on the strength of your relationships. For example, now that my son is no longer in elementary school, he doesn’t have access to his teacher that was his confidant for many years. It's okay that one relationship is gone because he has others, such as the ones from community organizations (such as his coach at the Boys and Girls Club and The Big Brothers, Big Sisters) that can help protect kids from ACEs because they provide positive role models and safe, stable relationships from caring adults. Three is just a number, not a deal-breaker. If you only have two people close to you to be part of your child’s "three," do not worry because it’s not about the number of people but about the relationships they are providing. In addition, community organizations are available to you. And remember, YOU are part of your child's three.
Today I want to bring attention to the multiple resources available both locally and nationwide to prevent ACEs. We all can build strong relationships with neighbors, friends, pediatricians, teachers, community resources, and much more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Where to find help locally?
I think everything starts at home. As parents, we should be able to provide a support system for our kids. But besides home, we can find the support needed in our neighbors, in our church, in the school district, in the pediatrician (doctor) office, and of course, there are also teen support groups where teens meet with a counselor to get guidance. (Think Big Brothers Big Sisters and similar groups).
Speaking of pediatricians, use your child's doctor as a resource. You don't need to wait for the next ear infection or wellness visit to see your child's doctor. Your pediatrician is there to direct you to support if your family is experiencing challenging times or adverse events.
Where to find nationwide resources?
There are plenty of websites that have valuable information. I always recommend having accredited sites such as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents also can also look for some programs available to them depending on their location, for example in California, Paid Family Leave let’s parents take time off work to take care of their family
Bottom line is to find a group of adults that your kids can rely on. I am part of someone’s three, and lately, with my parents being sick, I am not as available as I was before, but I made sure the child knows they can contact their teacher and counselor and school to look for support when I am not reachable. Being part of someone’s three is being there to provide support, even if it means you are just directing them to another resource.
Make sure the children (your child or the one you are part of their three) know that doctors, teachers, and people at religious organizations are in the community to help. They also have a list of resources available for us.
I want to invite you again to become part of someone’s three. Even if you are very busy you can recommend some community places (listed above) and that could make a huge difference in that child’s life. Knowing my child has support outside the home is priceless.
This is why I am part of someone else’s ‘three,’ and I want you to be, too.