Sunday, May 21, 2006

Join a Parenting Group Online

By Christina VanGinkel

If you are a mother or father of an infant or a toddler, and your child is going though any number of various growing pangs, reflected in a way that you are having a difficult time dealing with them, be it feeding issues, tantrums, spitting, extended crying, whatever, and you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed, there are things you can do to help yourself through what you might consider some of the most stressful trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Talking with other parents who are currently going through some of these same or similar situations, or who have already gone through them, is a great way to help your self through this period. Finding other parents may or may not be a simple task. One way to reach out to those that might be able to help, is to join a parent's group that meets locally, or an online group, such as one of those hosted by Yahoo groups.

With the online world growing rapidly every day, more and more people are doing the latter, and joining an online parenting group to help them deal with the stresses of parenting both big and small. At the same time, many of them are even finding friends in fellow parents that they may be likely to keep in contact with for years to come.

Sort of like any other parenting group, where you take any advice given with a grain of salt, but where you can freely ask if this or that is normal, or where you can discuss what someone else might do under certain circumstances, where you can ask just about any question from what brand of diapers do others recommend, to what are others views on preschools. The difference being that the group is online and people communicate via posting to the group's board or via email.

What I have found to be nice about the idea of an online group is that parents of infants and toddlers are already stretched for time, and getting out to one more group meeting may be nearly if not totally impossible. By meeting online via one of these groups, you can pop in whenever you happen to have the time, and if you join a large enough group, invariably someone else will be online. If not, you can always post a question, or leave a response for some other parent who asked or inquired about something, and then just check later when you have a moment.

These groups can also be nice for those who might live in such a rural area that finding a group of parents with children of similar ages is impossible even if you have time on your hands a plenty!

At Yahoo Groups, you can check out what groups are available by searching through their directory. Start by clicking on their Family & Home section, and from their, clicking into Parenting. Within the category of Parenting, you will find quite a few specialized group headings from which to search even further. Some that I found interesting included Parenting Babies and Toddlers, Single Parents, Twins and Multiples, Single Parents, Child Safety, Stay at Home Parents, and several more. Clicking into any one of these or the other headings within Parenting and you will find numerous groups with specific details about what the groups are all about. Some you can just join by following the instructions, others may require the group's moderator to approve you before you can start posting or reading messages. Some groups do this top keep down the number of people who might just be interested in a group to whom they could send spam, and not really be interested in becoming a valuable, active member.

You are almost sure to find one that will more than meet your needs. I also know quite a few parents who belong to even multiple groups, and they say it takes much less time, and they gain much more information, than if they belonged to even a single in person group. If you do not find a group to your liking, you can always create a group of your own, in hopes that some other parents in a similar situation will find your group. If you go this route, be sure to clearly state what you hope the group to be focused on.

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