Continuing on in my Summer Holiday Survival series, this week I’m looking at connecting with other South Asian families. Starting your very own mum’s group is actually really easy to do….
Motherhood, particularly the early years is often a very lonely and isolating time. Most mums are very eager to meet other mums of any race, but when there is common ground like religion or race, the bonds are often stronger.
If like me you live in a fairly white neighbourhood and happen to be quite far away from extended family, spending time with other South Asians is probably something you to have work on.
This is not about being exclusive or forming a clique.
But it is about you and your children spending time with other like-minded people, culturally speaking, who share the values, challenges and experiences of South Asian life. This is especially true for our children: it’s important for their sense of identity and self-esteem to be around other children who look like them and can identify with the values they are being raised with.
Having children is one of the best ways to meet new people, as you are forced into situations where you meet others at the same life stage. Anti-natal classes, NCT groups, baby & toddler groups and later on, the school gates are all great places to make new friends.
Of course the challenge comes if you there aren’t many Asians in your area. How then do you connect with other Asian families?
Here are my tips:
Places of worship:
Going to the gurdwara, church, temple or mosque is very much a part of South Asian life so this has to be the first place you try. Children are a great ice-breaker: “how old is your little one?” “Has he been walking long?” etc are a great way to start a conversation and hopefully strike up a bond. If that seems a little too daunting, perhaps get permission to post on the notice board or website that you’re looking to organise regular meet-ups or simply connect with others. You can usually do this even if you don’t belong to that place of worship, if you go via their office.
Most local baby, toddler and other children’s groups and activities are listed on these two sites’ local area sections. You could post a listing calling Asian mums in your area to contact you via email or Facebook. It might be a good idea to set up a separate email account so as not to give out your personal details.
Start a Facebook/Twitter group:
Give your group a name that includes the name of your town, like Asian Mums of SE16. Start off just posting statuses inviting people to join the group and explaining what you’re about. Get your friends to re-post it or like the group for you, and eventually it will go viral. Once there are enough of you chatting regularly you could broach the subject of meeting in a local Starbucks for an hour or so, and hopefully this will become a regular thing. You could move onto park trips, soft play centres, and when you feel comfortable enough, meeting in each other’s homes.
Perhaps all of that sounds really scary and you think no-one will respond; or worse yet, that you’ll attract a bunch of weirdos. But you’re not committing to anything by just putting out some feelers. Also if you try once and nothing much comes of it, its’ worth trying again six months later. These things are often ‘seasonal’ and you’ll find new families move to the area, or perhaps family life settles down a bit and the mum feels ready to venture out to meet new people. So take a deep breath and go for it- you might just make a whole new group of like-minded friends, for you and your kids.
Good luck! x
Read part 1 in the series “Desi Gender Stereotyping”, which looks at how to avoid typecasting your child