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See our guest post at the New America Foundation: Equality and Justice for All Families.

 

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Affirmation, Information and Advocacy

on October 25th, 2012 at 1:30:01 AM

It’s great to Partner with Attachment Parenting International this month to celebrate attachment parenting and focus on the theme of parent support.

Family and Home Network has been supporting parents for almost three decades!  We focus on helping families spend generous amounts of time together and we do this by offering parents affirmation, information and advocacy.

First of all, we affirm the importance of the parent-child relationship and the need for parents and children to spend generous amounts of time together. We offer information about research and experts’ advice on love, nurturing and time: Children’s Needs.

We affirm that choosing to spend time with children—whether cutting back on paid employment, or tag-team parenting by working different hours or choosing to be an at-home parent—can be a great choice. We provide a way for parents to share their thoughts and feelings, their experiences with personal growth. There are many affirmative essays on our website; here are excerpts from just a few:    

"The hardest task that many new mothers face is that of bringing shape and meaning to their day. At home there is no pattern, no schedule, no goal, until you make one. When my first child was an infant I had days when I was virtually paralyzed with indecision." Read more: What about YOU? by Nelia Odom.

* * *

“I loved Liam from the time before he was born. People talk about the “miracle of birth”—and it is truly an amazing thing—but for me the true miracle is watching my son grow each day. Just as he continues to grow and develop, so does my love for him. In the beginning I didn’t realize just how much it would mean to me to spend so much time with Liam and be deeply involved with his care. I have since realized just how wonderful an opportunity I have been given…” Read more: Priority One by Tom Mayer.

* * *

 “[…] I did not realize the two roads would diverge at motherhood, although in retrospect it is the most natural place for this to happen to a woman. Yet diverge they did, and choices have been required. So which is the road less traveled by? Certainly mothering at home is a trodden path if ever there was one. On the other hand, my generation -- the ME generation -- encouraged "having it all," and I am choosing a theme closer to giving it all.” Read more: The Road Less Traveled by Robin Morris.

When we offer parents information, we often look first to parents themselves to let us know what they’re thinking and experiencing. When we wondered about support groups, we asked parents: What are you looking for when you set out to find a group? What can we learn from others’ experiences? More than fifty parents told us about their experiences with support groups, and you can read about some of the many different forms that support comes in: Support Groups for Moms. And then don’t miss the accompanying article: How to Find (or Start) a Mothers’ Support Group. Our resource pages include a listing of national support organizations with local chapters.

Having multiple sources of support is a great strategy, and finding local, person-to-person support is really important. But it isn’t always easy to take those first steps in reaching out, as Gina Riazi recounts in A Brief Moment. And at-home dads face some unique challenges in the community, including “mom-centric customs” as Damon Riley describes in Not an Interloper.

We heard from many parents that an especially difficult time for them was when they were making the transition from the paid workforce to at-home parenting, In response, we developed our six-week Transitioning Home workshops. Using Google+ hangouts, small groups of parents connect online—right from their own homes. There is private access to online readings: informational, science-based readings as well as essays exploring personal experiences and emotions. A participant workbook offers brief assignments and the once-a-week 90-minute group discussion is led by a facilitator. Our waiting list is growing, and we’re working on ways to offer more groups in the near future.

In addition to affirmation and information, we believe that a crucial aspect of our work is advocacy: paying attention to the media and to public policies. We speak up about misleading information or stereotyping of at-home parents as well as about the widespread misuse of statistics. Our Campaign for Inclusive Family Policies calls on policymakers to support parents regardless of the ways in which they meet their income-earning and caregiving responsibilities. Our advocacy efforts have grown out of the concerns parents share with us; advocacy is a vital aspect of our support for parents.

When Family and Home Network was founded in 1984, it printed an award-winning monthly journal—Welcome Home—and mailed it to subscribers. The organization also printed books and special publications. But like many publishers, in recent years FAHN has had to give up printing on paper and rethink its communication strategy. Our all-volunteer team faced a very limited budget and a very big learning curve. Today, thanks to open source technology tools, FAHN is rebuilding and growing again. FAHN connects with parents via our website, with our Transitioning Home workshops, as well as social media, including our Facebook page, Google+ page, and Twitter account.  

In spite of all the changes in how we reach out to parents, the three pillars of support we offer to parents remain constant: affirmation, information and advocacy. 

Celebrating Parent Support!

on October 8th, 2012 at 4:45:23 PM

We’re so happy to announce that Family and Home Network is a Partner in Attachment Parenting International’s month-long October celebration of attachment parenting, with its focus this year on parent support!

 

Graduation!

on September 9th, 2012 at 10:46:25 PM

Before I dive any deeper into my September “to do” list I want to share a personal milestone, express my gratitude, and issue an invitation.  

The milestone

This May I graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Human Development, Parenting and Policy.

My gratitude

First of all, I’m grateful to my husband for decades of understanding and support, which was crucial as I pursued my path of at-home mothering, volunteering and returning to college.

In the 1980s, I found great support and encouragement, as well as wonderful opportunities to learn as I began volunteering with Mothers at Home (the original name of Family and Home Network). I’m grateful to the three at-home mothers who founded this organization. They established a culture of inclusiveness and of listening to parents—parents with widely divergent socio-economic circumstances, education levels, political outlooks and religious beliefs. They examined and articulated cultural and policy issues that continue to resonate today.

I’m grateful to my colleagues—editors, members of the Board, staff and volunteers—who generously shared their professional expertise in many different fields. And I’m especially grateful for the great friendships that grew out of our work together.

I learned so much from the thousands of parents who communicated through our monthly journal Welcome Home. And I learned from leaders of other parent organizations and professionals working to help parents and children.

When I returned to college I drew on these years of “experiential learning” to inform my choice of classes, the questions I asked and the topics of my research papers. Thanks to the university’s program designed for adults returning to college – the Bachelor of Individualized Studies program – I was able to weave my studies and my work with FAHN together. And I was fortunate to find a great mentor, Dr. Susanne A. Denham, who is nationally renowned for her research on young children’s emotions. Digging into the scientific literature made me even more passionate about Family and Home Network’s mission: helping families spend generous amounts of time together.  

An invitation

For three decades, volunteers have sustained Family and Home Network. Please consider joining us! (We meet online so you can join us from almost anywhere.) For more information please see our Volunteer Information page.

And at anytime, please let us know of your concerns, questions, ideas—post a comment, use our contact form or send me an email: cmyers@familyandhome.org

Cathy Myers, Executive Director

End-of-Summer Update

on September 5th, 2012 at 1:10:46 PM

It’s been quiet here because we were very busy this summer with our families. We all work as volunteers, and we try to live by our values: time with family is the most important thing, so sometimes we just have to put our work on the back burner! Now we're happy to be spending some of our time focused on FAHN again.

We are shifting the traditional question we ask children (what did you do this summer?) to ourselves, with a focus on favorite “family together” times. Our Board and volunteers are sharing their favorite summer time memories, please tell us yours! 

- Cathy Myers, Executive Director

 

(We are also posting this on our Facebook page - please comment in either or both places!)

Table Talk

on February 29th, 2012 at 6:01:30 PM

Mom and sociologist Dina R. Rose, Ph.D. says "It's Not About Nutrition" and she helps parents understand the science-based feeding practices that lead to life-long healthy eating.

She writes:

Proportion, variety and moderation are easy for toddlers to understand.

  • Proportion: We eat more fresh, natural foods than anything else (including crackers, hot dogs, sugary yogurts, candy, cookies...) 
  • Variety: We eat different things on different days. 
  • Moderation: We only eat when we're hungry. We stop eating when we're full.

Read "Table Talk" and let us know what you think. 

Housewife? at-home mother? feminist?

on February 23rd, 2012 at 2:13:36 PM

This essay by Nancy Vazquez has long been a favorite. It's included in our Transitioning Home discussion group materials: More about the discussion groups here.

Depth

by Nancy Vazquez

Back when I was dating, there were a few boys, and later men, who were put off by the fact that I was brainy and ambitious. I had the feeling they weren't quite comfortable with a girl who made better grades than they did or a woman who didn't hesitate to voice her feminist views.

I wonder about those men now. I wonder what they would think if they could see me folding laundry with my sons as we wait for my breadwinner husband to come home for dinner in our typical suburban house. I wonder what they would say if they knew that I had become a brainy, ambitious, feminist housewife.

Read more....

 

Transitioning Home discussion groups

on February 18th, 2012 at 4:25:49 PM

A parent who leaves the paid workforce to be at home often experiences unexpected feelings and questions related to being an at-home parent. Family and Home Network offers Transitioning Home parent discussion groups and during this six-week series of meetings, we cover many topics including:

· Expectations, personal identity and the potential for personal growth

· The needs of infants and the critical mother-infant relationship

· Myths and realities of a home-based life

· Family, community, cultural influences

We meet online, using Google+ hangouts. Each Transitioning Home discussion group will include up to 6 parents and a facilitator from FAHN; meetings will last 90 minutes. Materials for reading between meetings, reflection/writing opportunities, and both individual and group exercises will be provided. Some materials will be emailed to you each week, some is offered on a private website just for Transitioning Home participants. 

For more information, and to indicate your interest, please see the Transitioning Home webpage.

REAL COMPLICATED... Life Made Even More Difficult*

on February 13th, 2012 at 7:55:30 PM

*Name has been changed to protect the guilty

 

I just have to mention something I recently saw on a magazine rack, as it pertains to my last post regarding non resolutions.  If I don't tell you about this I'll just burst I will.

 

A magazine whose name I shan't mention had a whopper of a January issue. (Note: I always dub this mystery do-it-yourself rag "Real Complicated" because  I'm guessing it would take me two years just to accomplish half of the suggested projects in a single issue.  I've never attempted such a feat, so this is just an estimate.)

 

Read More...

Some New Year's Non Resolutions

on February 13th, 2012 at 6:26:11 PM

 

Happy New Year!!

This year I don't resolve to:
 
lose weight
get organized
make more money
exercise more
write more
read more
or
spend more time with family and friends
 
Those resolutions never seem to last anyway...
 
I do vow to appreciate what I have today:  good health, time with family and friends, financial stability, time to do what I love most:  reading, writing, running, biking, walking my new doggie (more about her to come), and adequate space for everything I need. I may not have an overabundance of these things, but I have what I need right now.  Overly high expectations of myself and others invariably lead to a dead end.
 
I think, in this new year of 2012, we could all use a bit less self-transformation and a bit more self-appreciation. Let's turn down a notch our unending quests to try harder or be better versions of ourselves. Let's find more contentment with who we are right now and appreciate what we accomplish every day just by authentically being ourselves. Not ideal, airbrushed, romanticized versions of ourselves, but rather the real, imperfect, genuine and good enough ones.
 
The concept of not trying harder contradicts everything we read and see these days, but I truly believe we accomplish more when we positively focus on what we are versus what we could be. On what we're doing right versus doing wrong. Awareness of our present situation helps us recognize what's working good enough in our lives, and how certain unrealistic ideals can simply be let go. Often this simple, singular approach can work even better than setting numerous goals that not only are vague but also don't account for the way we are wired.
 

Read more...

Making Human Beings Human

on January 20th, 2012 at 3:22:37 PM

The great Urie Bronfenbrenner, professor of human development, wrote in a 1988 essay:

"In order to develop normally, a child needs the enduring, irrational involvement of one or more adults in care of and in joint activity with that child. In short, somebody has to be crazy about that kid. ...Of all the settings that help make us human, the family provides the most important developmental conditions: the love and care that a child needs to thrive. A healthy child and future adult is one who has such devoted people actively engaged in its life--those who love it, spend time with it, challenge it, and are interested in what it does and wants to do, in what it accomplishes from day to day. Other settings, such as school, church, or day care, are important to a child's development, but nothing can replace this basic unit of our social system: the family is the most humane, the most powerful, and by far the most economical system known for making and keeping human beings human."

Urie Bronfenbrenner, “Strengthening Family Systems,” in Making Human Beings Human: Bioecological Perspectives on Human Development, 1st ed. (Sage Publications, Inc, 2004).

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