Lifestyle

Parenting: Support available for families

Chills ran down my spine — little hairs stood at attention from my shoulders to my wrists. To hear the words I had long believed but rarely witnessed, brought about this visceral response. At a brainstorming gathering, a group of parent providers from across Island County compared the changes we are about to see in our community (and beyond) to the likes of the feminist movement: “Parenting is NOW the highest value of our society,” one member proclaimed.

“Parenting is our future,” another asserted.

“We all benefit when families are supported,” announced a third.

A paradigm shift is in the making; consciousness is rising!

Called together by Karin Watson, parent education coordinator for Island County, several parent educators and professionals working with families have been meeting for several months with the sole purpose of creating a unified foundation from which to support families. We see that parenting is work that should not be done in isolation or without resources. Furthermore, many families are in a state of flux and experiencing difficult challenges alone. We need a spark to rekindle the cornerstone of our society — family cohesion. Family support systems need to be integrated, accessible and appropriate for all. This newly formed group grew out of a desire to provide support to nurture healthy family relationships.

We are excited to announce the formation of the Family Support Alliance, a parenting support network for parents and professionals working with children, parents, and families across Island County. The vision of Family Support Alliance is clear, wide, and inclusive as we aim to weave together Island County families with services and support by nurturing ways for families and children to grow together.

We value parents engaged with their children in joyful, natural experiences as teachers and learners; we honor the sacredness of the parent-child relationship by celebrating parents’ and children’s successes; we hope to connect parents in meaningful, nonjudgmental conversations about all aspects of parenting. We envision all of this happening within a community who sees the Island’s children as the children of us all.

There are several ways you will see us at work in the community:

We will create new, accessible ways for families to connect with support and services.

This column will appear monthly offering parenting tips and insights.

We will bring parenting ideas that encourage friendly and affirming family culture in fresh new ways throughout the community.

We are a unified alliance of professionals who care about expanding a variety of support and services for the families of Island County. Our goal is simple: to provide an accessible, unified network of professional support for all families. We hope you join us.

The Whidbey News Times has graciously given space to this important aspect of our community health. Contributors for this column will rotate within the Family Support Alliance coordinators to give you various perspectives on a number of parenting issues, such as “Parenting the Emotional Lives of Children,” “Learned Helplessness,” “Family Rituals,” and “Play.” In an effort to make this medium interactive, we will be responding to your parenting issues. If you would like to pose a parenting question, please drop us a note to Karin Watson at Island County Health Department, P.O. Box 5000, Coupeville, WA 98239; or e-mail karinw&co.island.wa.us.

There are Family Support Alliance contacts in all parts of Island County. North Whidbey: Margie Forbes, Laurie Johnson, Toni Kotschwar and Mary Phemister. South Whidbey: Connie Dawson, Marisa LaRue, Shellie Moore, Mully Mullally, Kristina Saunsaucie, Karin Watson and Bess Windecker-Nelson. Camano Island: JoAnn Brisbine and Diana Kobb.

Whidbey Island resident Bess Windecker-Nelson has a Ph.D. in child development and family relations.

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