National Family Week is Oct. 7-13, and this year’s theme is "Strong Families — Strong Communities."
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. It is true that being part of a strong community helps families become strong.
When families are strengthened by the community, those families in turn help keep the community alive. Strong families and strong communities go hand in hand.
There are many ways parents can help nurture a sense of community in their children.
A baby’s first understanding of community comes from within the family unit. She knows she is safe with people who love her and will care for her. As she gets older, her community will continue to expand to include extended family members, neighbours, playmates and teachers.
However, it all starts with a strong connection to the people she lives with, in a place where she feels she belongs.
You can help your young child widen his circle of community by gradually introducing him to new people and places. Go to the park to play alongside other children. Take walks around your neighbourhood to help him become familiar with some of the people who live nearby. Attend a parent-child group or activity at the Family Resource Centre or other community organization.
Although your child does not understand it yet, she is strengthened by the community in many ways. It is never too early to help children learn to give back to the community. This, as well, begins at home. Asking your child to help with small jobs, like making her bed or feeding a pet, can be her first introduction to becoming a contributing community member.
You can give your child opportunities to extend his help beyond the family home. He could draw a picture for someone who is sick or visit an elderly friend or relative who is lonely. Help him go through toys and clothes he no longer uses and donate them for other families in need. Take food to the food bank or animal shelter to help people and pets in our community who are hungry.
By raising children to know about and want to be a part of the community, both the community and the family will continue to grow stronger.
On Sunday, Oct. 6, from 1-4 p.m., the community is invited to come together to attend Brandon’s fourth annual kickoff party to celebrate National Family Week. It will be held at New Era School and will feature free children’s entertainment, as well as fun activities and community displays.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
» 255 Ninth St., Brandon