This week I was struck by a quote from a parent who did a PEPS Group. She said:
“The most important thing I learned was the power of a group.”
At PEPS we hear from parents daily about the impact PEPS has on their lives. Some even tell us that PEPS saved their lives. Peer support and social connection IS a powerful thing. But in the wake of this post-election week, I have been reflecting on the power of a group beyond our individual lives and PEPS groups. What is our collective power as a group?
We have heard from families in the PEPS community and beyond this week who are weary from the election season. And some who are now afraid. Afraid for the safety, well-being, and future for themselves, their children, and their planet. We have heard a resounding need for togetherness and solidarity. Isn’t this what PEPS does for so many, in the context of new parenthood? Isn’t there a way to leverage the values of community, support, and belonging that already exist in individual PEPS groups and apply them to our larger community?
Just as I started asking these questions, I realized that I wasn’t alone. We have been hearing from PEPS Groups who are already coming together and thinking bigger than and beyond themselves. Over the past few days our community has shared lots of ideas that promote kindness and unity and I wanted to share them with you.
- Expand beyond your PEPS group and organize events that bring your neighbors together.
- Support a local social, racial, or earth justice organization like Open Arms, Families of Color (FOCS), WestSide Baby, Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN), EarthCorps, and many more.
- Write “Dear Survivor” letters to survivors of sexual and domestic violence stating that you believe them and stand with them. Mail to your local sexual violence/domestic violence center.
- Donate food or goods to an organization that serves refugees and immigrants.
- Bake treats for friends and neighbors who are feeling afraid right now.
- Start a book club that focuses on diversity/inclusion/social justice.
- Create art together.
- If your children are in a preschool/school, reach out to one of the families in your child’s class that you have never connected with before; write them a note and offer your support in case they need it.
- Look for community volunteer opportunities for the whole family – things like stream clean-ups that young kids can participate in.
- Read to your kids about strong women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color and expose your children to media that portray positive, diverse characters.
- Take part in the “Safe With Me” safety pin movement.
- Make a paper chain with your child(ren). Every night, together, write something positive, something you are grateful for, or a good deed you can do. One family is using their paper chain as a centerpiece at their Thanksgiving table this year.
- Identify, create, and support safe spaces in your community. There may already be established businesses or community centers near you that are SPD Safe Places.
- Get involved with Green Dot (a bystander intervention initiative) in your community. Contact DAWN for more info.
- Become familiar with businesses and organizations in your neighborhood who support human rights and equality, and then support them.
- Take breaks from social media if it is too much.
- Write to your legislators and policy makers and tell them what is important to you and your community.
- Talk to your kids about the election aftermath.
- Host a screening of Before the Flood in your house or at a community center.
- Learn how to stand up to xenophobic harassment.
- Talk to your young children about racism.
- Find a way to help on United Way’s MLK Day.
- Donate your professional services (calling all attorneys, nurses, consultants, architects, etc.) to a cause you believe in.
- Share ideas with each other about simple ways your family can make choices to better care for our planet.
- Continue to support PEPS as we continue to grow our impact to reach more families and pursue our vision of connecting families and building community and belonging.
My hope is that you will be inspired to engage with your own PEPS groups, peer groups, and neighborhoods in ways that cultivate listening, acceptance, and community. I also invite you to add to this list by commenting below or emailing us at email@example.com.
Much love to all of you from us at PEPS. We wish you a peaceful weekend with your families and look forward to hearing from you.
About the Author
Jessica Lawmaster is the executive director of PEPS and a mother of three young daughters. Jessica earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and is passionate about supporting ways to empower and build resilience in families. This summer Jessica joined a Second Time Around group as well as an evening Newborn Group with her husband, Patrick. Jessica and her family moved to Seattle in 2016 and are fully enjoying exploring the culture, opportunities, and natural beauty the city has to offer.
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