The Value of a Support SystemREAL

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Anamaria Jerald is a mom of three in Southern California. She and her husband, Jim, adopted two brothers, Johnny, four-and-a-half, and Joe, three-and-a-half, who had been in nine foster care placements over the past two-and-a-half years. Their biological parents were incarcerated. These boys had been locked for long periods of time in dark rooms, suffering from severe physical and emotional neglect.

Anamaria knew that parenting these boys would be very difficult, but wasn't prepared for their constant need to be held; the daily violent, loud, and frequent temper tantrums from their emotional pain; and the nightmare of bedtime. Anamaria felt she was making progress with Johnny, but continued to have a difficult time with Joe's behavior.

One day Anamaria was at soccer practice with her older daughter, Rachel, and reading Endangered Minds, a parenting book by Jane Healy. Peggy, another mom, noticed the book, which she had read, and started a conversation. After a brief discussion about the trials and tribulations of raising the boys, Peggy asked if she could help.

"We've been talking every other Wednesday since for the last ten months," Anamaria explained. "I tell Peggy what's happening with the boys, and what I thought I needed to do. She makes suggestions. And then we brainstorm and work on a plan for me to try with Joe. Peggy has kept me focused and real about the progress I was making and gives me perspective to see the changes, as small as they were."

If you're feeling overwhelmed in your parenting, you may want to consider getting yourself a support system: someone you can trust and talk to regularly to offer alternatives and a fresh perspective or just to be there for you. It could be a girlfriend, a grandparent, a teacher, or a parent coach. As Anamaria said, "Moms shouldn't be doing this alone."

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