This Sunday, July 27, is National Parents’ Day, a day to celebrate all of those men and women across the country who are raising our future doctors, nurses, corporate executives, police officers, firefighters, and teachers. Parents are our first teachers and any day that recognizes the important work being done by mothers and fathers in communities around the country is one worth celebrating.
But it’s important to remember that parents don’t raise healthy, stable, and productive children alone. They have the support of family, neighbors, communities, and when needed, home visiting services such as Healthy Families America, which reduce feelings of being all alone, educate parents on the latest information they want to know, and start that life long relationship with their child that helps children transition into good, contributing community citizens.
It’s also important to recognize, and appreciate, that not all parents are alike. According to the U.S. Census, less than 70% of children today live in two-parent households. 27% of children live in single-parent homes, most often with only their mother.
According to a Pew survey from 2009, more than 2.4 million children are being primarily raised by a grandparent. Similarly, more than 5.5 million children in the country are being raised by at least one stepparent. Still others are being raised by loving foster parents who have opened their hearts and their homes to almost 400,000 children in foster care as of September 2012 according to the Administration for Children and Families.
These men and women deserve celebrations too. They also deserve the same kind of support that all families from all demographics need from time to time. So this year on National Parents’ Day, let’s all commit to doing something to provide that support to families in our communities.
For example, every family regardless of makeup or wealth occasionally will experience stress, one of the leading causes of child maltreatment. You can help by doing something simple like offering to babysit children so the parents can have a night to relax, or bringing over a home-cooked meal so there’s one less thing for the parents to worry about that day.
Other families are prone to feelings of isolation, which is a major contributor to child neglect. When parents lack the support of family and friends, juggling things like work and childcare can be difficult. For these families it is up to us as neighbors and community members to take the time out of our own days to do something to help reduce isolation. This can be as simple as introducing yourself to the single parent on your block or holding activities like block parties or neighborhood barbecues or establishing a play date for the children while parents get connected to each other.
Small actions like these are good ways to bring the neighborhood closer and help create the kind of atmosphere where parents, maybe for the first time, feel the joy of “community. And that can make all the difference in the world.
If we all commit to take some time out of our Saturday and do something to really and truly recognize the work done by all parents of all kinds in our communities, then we’ll be getting to the heart of what National Parents’ Day is really about: celebrating the healthy families and children that these parents are working to create.