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Why Should I Join a Mom Group?

Photo by: iStock

No one who has given birth (or watched a partner do so) would ever deny that it is hard work, but people sometimes forget that it is just the beginning. First-time parents face all kinds of new challenges, and moms may second-guess the decision as they spend more time with an infant and less with adults. Mom groups can be a lifesaver for overcoming those hurdles. So, what are the benefits of those groups.

Get Quick Answers to Scary Questions
When you are responsible for a helpless little human, questions can overwhelm you. A mom’s group is a great source, as the members have the same experiences. They understand your panic when your baby doesn’t sleep through the night or gets a new rash on his little tush, and you benefit from their experience.

Dr. Stephanie O’Leary, clinical psychologist and author of Parenting in the Real World, points out that, traditionally, the whole village supported new moms, with daily access to others’ experience and wisdom; they could get help and guidance for this new journey. Dr. O’Leary reminds modern moms that they must create their own village in today’s busy world, and a moms group fills the bill. They provide the opportunity to share “war stories” and to find measuring sticks for childhood milestones.

Make New Friends
No matter how many friends you have and how close you are pre-baby, the dynamics change after you become a parent. Friends without children now have a totally different set of interests, so you may find that you have less in common to talk about when you’re together. A moms group, however, never runs out of things to discuss; the like-minded community has plenty in common, and they understand your new reality. The group provides a strong foundation for developing friendships that might be short-term or might grow into lifelong connections. Dr. O’Leary also mentions that the group also relieves the pressure of looking for and then entertaining new friends, as the group meetings provide the structure.

And it’s not just the grown-ups who may find friends in mom groups. Ali Wenzke, moving and friendship expert for The Art of Happy Moving, shares that the groups help create first friendships for children through interaction with other kids. It also provides real-life opportunities to learn to share and to be kind from early ages.

Provide Routines
Wenzke also points out that being a new parent creates chaos, and routines are reassuring, providing a structure to cling to when things seem out of control. A mom group, she shares, gives you something specific to look forward to each week.

Reduce Social Isolation
According to Angela Roeber, with Project Harmony, a supportive network makes caring for your children and yourself easier; the loss of social connections after a new baby can actually place a new mom at higher risk for child abuse or neglect. Julie Burton, author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must Have Guide to Health and Well-Being and mother of four, describes a mom group as a community without the “trickiness” of family relations. Wenzke pronounces it as being “like group therapy…but it’s free, and we have great snacks.”

Once again, children also benefit from the social connections of a mom group, according to Roeber, as they have access to other nurturing adults who model important relationship skills for the kids.

In addition, group sessions provide the chance to vent, to compare notes, and to get reassurance that you are not the only one who struggles, according to Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D, licensed clinical psychologist and professor at John Jay College. Hearing from others that they struggle with the same concerns protects new moms from a sense of shame that they aren’t handling everything perfectly, too, says licensed professional counselor Tricia Andor; the group gives you the chance to release negative self-judgement about insecurities about being a good parent.

Get Practical, Concrete Help
A mom group provides more than sympathetic listeners and emotional support, too. As the bonds between members grow, the group may become a “go to” source for babysitters, as you learn which moms share your parenting style, which ones you trust with your children, and which ones have kids you wouldn’t mind caring for in exchange. The friendships you form give you a network to reach out to when you need emergency transportation or other help, as well.

Just like in any type of group, every member may not be your “cup of tea,” and you might even need to try out more than one group to find your best fit, but the benefits are worth the time and effort involved.

Pam Martin has been writing professionally since the early 1980s, on a wide variety of topics. She brings 20 years of classroom teaching and tutoring experience to the party, including early elementary classes and courses in writing, reading and literature, history, geography and government at middle and high schools. She is also accomplished in crafting and in writing about projects, including her blogs, Roots and Wings From the Village, The Corner Classroom, and Sassy Scribbler, which encompass crafting, cooking, lesson plans, and professional writing advice.

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