"It takes a village to raise a child." You may have heard this saying at one time or another, and for good reason. If you're a parent, having support systems are essential, and people like family and friends can help to provide that helpful support and guidance -- both day-to-day and during difficult times. But there may be times when the specific advice you're looking for isn't readily available in the support systems you already have established. For example, maybe you have a special needs child and you want to understand better how to care for him. Or maybe you just need to connect with someone who has been through the same thing. In these situations, parent-to-parent networks may be a great choice for finding the resources that you need.
There are many different types of parent-to-parent networks, and by searching online you can find one that is best suited to your needs. Sometimes networks address a specific issue or disorder, such as caring for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [source: CHADD]. Other times, they apply to more general needs, but are limited to one state [source: Texas Parent to Parent]. Each network will offer different resources, but there are common trends among these networks and their Web sites. Often they will offer a resource directory, newsletters, articles or training sessions. Through their Web sites, these networks sometimes will match parents for one-on-one peer support, as well, connecting them to people with similar needs and allowing them to discuss concerns via phone or e-mail.
Often the most important thing to remember when raising a child with special needs is that you are not alone. Parent-to-parent networks can provide useful information and, perhaps more importantly, an empathetic listener to help you work through your difficult times. With so many options out there, finding the right parent-to-parent network for you may seem like a daunting task. To get a handle on the types of local parent-to-parent networks available, read on to the next page.