Are you looking to find support online? The Internet has been my saving grace time and time again.The first thing I ask is HOW people want to get their support. Maybe you’re good with reading on the Internet and have found articles here on EmpoweringParents.com and elsewhere to help you in your journey as a parent. You might want to join groups online with similar interests or problems. It could be that you just need to vent and want nothing else. I found places to do all of these things on the web over the years, which is why the Internet has been my support group.
I remember my first journey into the world wide web and how scary it was. It was 1999. I was still married to my ex and my children were only 2 and 8 years old. My husband worked nights, and after running a day care out of my home for 5 years, I was back out in the work world. I remember being as afraid of going on the web as I would have been walking into a room full of strangers. My first step was into a book club. Eventually, we started talking about our real lives and some of us even began emailing privately. To this day I still have a very good friend that I met in this group. Once I was comfortable with the chats and this group, I ventured out to find other groups with shared interests.
My ex-husband had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder some years earlier so I started reading as I much as I could online. I found a support group for significant others of people with bipolar. That is where I met another mom with older kids, who was separated from her husband who had this disorder. One day I had posted about an incident at home and she emailed me privately to ask if I wanted to chat because she had an eerily similar incident. We chatted and found so many similarities in our lives and children and husbands. We remained close up until about 3 years ago when we lost touch. We have never “met” in “real life” but she was there for me over and over again when I was going through my divorce. Her sense of humor got me through some really rough times. I could sit at my computer and tell her everything and more often than not, she had a similar story to share!
Over the years, as life changed and my children got older, I reached out more and more to the web for support. When my son started having behavioral issues I found a support group online for families. The good thing about the web is that it could be fit into my schedule — you know, the one where I worked all day and cared for my children at night & never left the house? I found out about a free training for families in my state to learn how to navigate the systems of care, learn about advocacy, & meet with other families dealing with similar issues with their children. There was one I had to leave the house for — one weekend a month for 6 months — but it was paid for by the agency that did the training. There I met other families & gained so much support.
Over the years I attended meetings or functions in the world I had now entered — the one where my child was not developing typically and not fitting into the world of public school and sports games. I had people to call when I needed to vent & resources to use when I needed guidance. When my hours got cut at my job by half, I contacted one of the women who ran the training, whom I had seen on and off over the years at other events, and asked if she knew of anything where I could work with families to offer the support I had received. Believe it or not, she did! I applied to be a Family Navigator for my county and I now I am able to give back to other families.
I am still utilizing the Internet here on EmpoweringParents.com, as you are right now! I blog about my experiences and love to hear other people’s stories. I attend webinars and I do research. Recently I learned of a support group online for families of children with Type I diabetes. (My youngest son was diagnosed with diabetes less than a year ago.) One day I received a notice of a retreat run by the American Diabetes Association. Due to a scholarship they offered, my entire family was able to go away for a weekend with other families living with diabetes.
Without the Internet, I would not be where I am today in my journey as a mom and as an advocate.