By Thomas Kulanjiyil
Networking allows individuals and groups with common goals, interests, and purpose to collaborate in sharing information and services that are beneficial to all. Business networks help in the cause of business, social networks help in the cause of social support and socialization, and political networks help in the cause of public life and service. Similarly, family networks help in the cause of families.
There can be family networks for couples with small children, couples with older children, and for single parents. Family networks can be established for working couples, stay-at-home mothers, or for home-schooling parents.
Creating a support system for families is one of the greatest benefits of having a family network. It allows families to connect with each other and to provide social support and emotional encouragement. It creates a platform for families to share their common experiences in raising a family, and to learn from them.
A network of families allows people to jointly work towards the common goal of strengthening and building families. It allows them to exchange their knowledge and information on many important aspects of family life. These may include information on social services and resources that are family-focused, such as recreational opportunities, volunteering opportunities, and mental health services that are available in a local community. Families may share ideas on effective parenting, assisting children with their educational needs, relationship building, problem-solving, time management, stress management, money management, money saving shopping ideas, healthy life style choices, and tips for improving marriage. Families can work in partnership on projects such as attending or arranging an educational seminar, planning a family picnic or a family vacation. Families can exchange their knowledge on how to care for a child with special needs, or how to cater to the needs of an older parent.
One of the biggest problems for South Asian families in North America is the lack of social support, and it creates a lot of stress on families, on all areas of family life. Lack of social support and cultural understanding creates problems in marriage as well as in parent-child relationship. De-veloping a network of families that share common cultural values, and learning from each other, is beneficial to all South Asian families. Net-working with non-Asian families that share common family values is also advantageous.