I read an article earlier this week that got me thinking. The theme of the article was on the lack of community in our culture, and how it affects young moms. I loved the article as a whole, but I disagreed with part of its conclusion: that young moms are not responsible for building community – that older moms and other people should be creating that community for the young moms.
The tone of the article was gentle and understanding toward young moms, hesitant to place more burdens on their already tired shoulders. And there are definitely stages of life where community building is hard – such as when you have a newborn. However, those stages of life are when we need community the most. Generally speaking, we as young and even new mothers, are far more powerful and capable than we give ourselves credit for, and we need to see ourselves that way.
Yes, community is a responsibility that rests on all of us. But especially in a culture that discourages older women from sharing advice or offering help, there are several practical things that younger women can do to pull those around us into community, and to let others around us know that they are welcome to get involved in our lives!
In this video, I share five tips for young moms who want to build community. These things are not easy, but the rewards far outweigh the work put in. In many cases, the most powerful thing one can do is to simply change the way one sees the world!
Also: if you are my family or friend and you are reading this, please know that the suggestions or examples I use in the video have nothing to do with you! Obviously, if we are close, you are what this is all about and you are the absolute highlight of my life!
For those who don’t have time to watch the video, here is a breakdown of my five points:
- Loosen up control
- Figure out what your non-negotiable standards are as parents and on all other issues be open to letting others influence your kids and contribute to their lives in their own way
- Be willing to let others influence your kids, even if they do things differently than you would
- Give trusted family members and friends authority to tell your kids what to do or to jump in and help without having to ask
- Community is give and take; help comes with letting others be themselves and be involved in their own way.
- Relax your standards when appropriate to allow someone else to show you or your kids love and care.
- Be willing to put in the effort
- Be willing to put yourself out there, even if you don’t get a response or reciprocal effort from others. Be understanding that it’s not natural in this culture for people to get out of their comfort zones.
- Consider getting out of your comfort zone yourself and doing things that others are interested in as a way to spend time with them.
- Go the extra mile to make others feel loved. Be willing to lead the way and show others how to live in community, even if it seems like you’re the only one doing so at first.
- Get your joy out of who you are and what you have to offer others, without worrying about what you receive back. Then, if you develop a great relationship out of your efforts, that’s a bonus!
- Be willing to get uncomfortable
- Let others see your house when it’s messy, see you when you’re tired, and be around when you’re busy. Invite others to join into real life with you, without feeling like you have to make it look perfect.
- Accept others in their imperfection and be willing to stay involved, even when life gets messy.
- If you want community in your neighborhood, get out and knock on some doors and offer to be a part of neighborhood kids’ lives. Don’t worry about how others perceive you. Most people are lonely and someone has to break that cycle!
- Be willing to take the initiative to make plans with others; most people are really good at saying they want to get together but struggle with follow-through.
- Be willing to accept advice
- See the advice others offer you as a contribution, not a nuisance.
- Accept the fact that real people have real opinions, and they are going to express them. Don’t see advice and opinions as a negative things. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and we can all learn something from each other.
- Especially when it comes to older women, let them know that their advice and contributions are valuable to you.
- If you have a supportive family, there are no such things as “in-laws!” I prefer to remove that word from my vocabulary. If your husband’s mom loves you and your kids, then she is the best gift you will ever receive and a wealth of wisdom and help!
- Pray for people to be close to and share life with.
- Pray for people to be a blessing to.
- Watch out, because God will send you exactly what you ask for!