Asking for help
‘We know parenting doesn’t always come naturally, so if we’re stuck, we ask whānau and friends for ideas…’ (Te Pihinga 1, page 5).
Parents are more likely to seek information about parenting from friends and family members that they trust than from anyone else. And when they share newly received parenting information with friends and family, they’re more likely to make behaviour changes.
So, talking with friends and family about baby and parenting has advantages for new parents — both for getting help, and for helping to consolidate new learning.
‘Having pēpi at home is new, exciting, fun and scary at times. We are all learning’ (Te Pihinga 1, page 6).
Emotional and practical support from family and friends can also reduce stress in the mum.
A supportive partner is one of the most helpful factors for a new mother. And it’s important that both mum and dad are looking after themselves and each other — a depressed dad can have negative effects on mum and baby.
Factors that increase parents’ resilience are:
- confidence in their role as parents
- good physical health
- positive wellbeing and mental health
- supportive relationships.
The best way for whānau to help
Additional help and support from friends, family and community networks can also make the entry to parenthood so much easier.
The best way to help is by doing practical tasks like washing and cooking, rather than taking the baby away to give mum a chance to catch up with the chores.
Factors that reduce parents’ resilience are:
- alcohol or substance misuse
- health problems
- low confidence
- relationship conflict
Risk factors for baby and their family include:
- lack of someone to confide in
- lack of support
- not seeking support from outside
- social isolation.
Listening and supporting
Having someone who will listen to parents and help them explore their concerns is valuable for them, and for their baby.
Parents need a supporter who can help them identify potential risk and resilience factors, encourage healthy coping strategies, and make referrals to specialist services if necessary.
In these early months, the factors that increase parents’ resilience are:
- feeling OK about life
- getting practical support
- getting support from family and friends
- having emotional support
- having positive ideas about baby
- having realistic expectations
- looking after their physical health
- receiving nurture and protection
- relationship support
And the factors that reduce parents’ resilience are:
- a negative atmosphere
- feeling uncared for
- lack of resources
- lack of someone to talk to
- lacking practical support
- lacking support (being isolated)
- relationship difficulties
- unhealthy diet and habits
- unrealistic or negative expectations
- unrealistic or negative ideas about baby.
As the family’s support person, your job is to:
- encourage bonding and attachment with baby
- explore parents’ views and knowledge about parenting and the new baby
- encourage realistic expectations for early development and parenting
- share and explore accurate and helpful information regarding early infant growth
- encourage effective coping strategies
- identify risk and resilience factors
- identify reliable support
- consider and contact local support networks.
‘Good enough’ parenting is ordinary magic
Good enough’ parenting is ordinary magic. The ordinary things that parents do in a family are those things that make a positive difference. The phrase ‘good enough parenting’ tells us that simple, everyday activities make the most positive difference in a child’s development.