A sense of community has long played a pivotal role in the Black parenting experience. In fact, many Black communities approach parenting as a group effort—offering everything from encouragement to a stern course correction, if needed. While all parents appreciate family and friends who help support their journey, Black parents take pride in a unique sense of community.
The history of helping to care for others’ families fostered a long-standing sense of community, which continues to be an integral part of the Black parenting experience.
What Community Looks Like for Black Parents
A sense of community is “a feeling that members have of belonging [and] a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group,” according to the American Psychological Association. That feeling of being a part of something greater encourages a person to care about the collective “we” of a group.
“Parenting, especially when you are a new parent, can feel quite isolating,”. “A community is extremely important to support one in their parenting journey.” Ultimately, your community is there to offer different perspectives and examples that a child can look up to.
Benefits of Community in Black Parenting
Studies show a sense of community has a positive impact on mental health, including reducing chronic stress. In addition to offering connection and support, the community can also magnify a sense of purpose.
Potential Pitfalls of Community
While the benefits of community are numerous for children and parents, there are also potential pitfalls to be aware of. Sometimes, being a part of a community may mean you are the only representation of it. “If you’re the only Black kid in class, or you’re the only Black kid participating in an activity, there’s pride and pressure,”.
The pressure and pride of Blackness are nuanced and deeply individual. With kids, this often looks like a fear of letting their community down.
Why a Sense of Community Matters to Black Parents
Having someone who understands your point-of-view, and how it impacts the way you raise your children makes a difference. Community means having people around you who can relate to giving “the talk” about interacting with law enforcement, or folks who understand how being “the first Black person” to do something is a badge of honor and pride. Surrounding yourself with people who know exactly what you’re going through means your beliefs, values, and experiences are presented to your children repeatedly as valuable and worthwhile.