Imagine supporting a mother (or father) who needs it.
What might this ‘support’ look like?
It could mean creating the time and space to share and reflect on the many hopes, feelings, experiences, and concerns that accompany pregnancy and the early days of parenting. Just making the time to listen to a new mother can be a huge gift, when so much of her time and energy is focused on the needs of her child, rather than her own.
It could involve sharing valuable information that will enable the mother to see new opportunities or solve problems or challenges that she is faced with, like ‘how do I find out about trustworthy creches in my area?’, or ‘where can I collect UIF forms and how must I fill them out?’
Most importantly, it is about being a consistent, caring presence who the mother feels she can count on during the ups and downs of this new journey.
By supporting the mother, there is also another role that you are playing as a ‘witness’ to her child’s unfolding life. What does this role call for?
While developing a genuine relationship with the mother, you are also being that same authentic presence in the child’s life. Taking the time to listen and talk to the child, reading and playing with him whenever the opportunity arises. Trips to the library, chats over a milkshake, visits to the beach.
Often it is about sharing in the delight of the child’s accomplishments – noticing small steps that have been taken (literally!) and important milestones that have been achieved. Celebrating these.
Occasionally, there may be a concern. ‘Did you notice she keeps rubbing her ear? What could that be about?’ This is a delicate balance of keeping the child’s best interest at heart (and occasionally taking action if necessary), while always respecting the parent and trying to garner their blessings and support.