One question that comes from parents about Hello My Village is: how do parents trust other adults who they do not know well to support them properly on the platform? This question is an interesting one because the sentiment behind it is driven by two things: shame and fear. Let us talk about why you are apprehensive to ask your neighbors for support, and how Hello My Village addresses that apprehension.
In order to understand the lack of support in the current day, there has to be a reference point for what support looks like among neighbors. It is necessary to go back a few decades to explain what support looks like. In the 20th century, the support system was well established among neighbors. You only need to look into the history of asking neighbors for a cup of sugar.
It was not common to have sacks of sugar stored in the pantry at all times like it is today. So sometimes when a family was baking something sweet like a cake they would run out of sugar and they would not be able to get another sack at the grocery store. If there was no sugar, a family member would leave the house and knock on the neighbor’s door to borrow a cup of sugar. There was always a neighbor who was able to give you that cup of sugar. This exchange is an example of the informal support system that ran through the majority of neighborhoods a few decades back. There was an unspoken social understanding between you and your neighbor. Your neighbor knew that if they ran out of sugar one day, you’d likely have some to give to them.
Unfortunately, this sentiment has not carried on to the present day in all neighborhoods. You no longer go to your neighbor’s for a cup of sugar because you do not know if there is anything for you to present back to them for there to be a fair exchange. It is in the fact that you are uncertain about what value you can give back to your neighbor that you do not go to them for support. Your apprehension comes from the shame you would feel in not being able to present something to your neighbor and the fear that they would reject your request for support because you have nothing of value to present to them.
The negative perception you think your neighbor would have of you if you asked for a cup of sugar makes you think there is always a negative stigma that is associated with you asking for some help. This sense of stigma is real. We have all encountered that parent that gives a backhanded compliment or looks at you in a different way simply because you have parented in a way they do not like. That parent probably knows a different parent that shares a backhanded compliment over their parenting style.This tiny inkling of knowledge indicates one thing that we should all understand. No parent is perfect, no matter how hard they try. All parents want support. They may be reaching out for support in a way that you have never seen before. While you need white sugar for your cake, they may need brown sugar for theirs. They too are needing to go to their neighbor for support.
We have found so many parents who feel under-supported, and would love to reach out to certain community members, but do not know how to approach the community. Our team is full of parents. As parents, we know that parenting is messy and that there is no such thing as the perfect parent. We all have skill sets that could use some fine tuning and we all have situations that come up that may make things difficult for us to support our children in the way we would like. So, given this we understand that the best way in which you will be able to get value from our platform is to develop your skill set through a support system by bartering with other parents. You do not have to feel guilty about asking for a cup of sugar from your neighbors because you know that you have a coveted jar of jam to give to them through our barter system.
Parents are reaching out with their concerns in order to get help. Our caregivers and teachers are reaching out to you in order to help. We have shown you neighbors who are willing to give you sugar because they know you have the kind of service they need for there to be a fair exchange. Everyone is reaching out for some support, and because of that no one will stigmatize you for reaching out to other people to allow you to parent in the best way you find possible.
If this still leaves you unsettled, we encourage you to reach out to our staff to give input on how making you feel more comfortable asking for a cup of sugar from your neighbors. We want to make sure you feel comfortable with us, and we are more than ready to ensure that this ends up being the case for all of us. While it may not be literal sugar you're asking for -- know that HMV and the villages we're connecting you to are here to help.