Parenting/Caregiver Advice and Support

Parenthood can bring joy and sorrow, challenges and successes. It can make one feel proud, tired, delighted, bored, and overwhelmed - sometimes all at once. It is not uncommon for a parent to neglect his/her own needs while focusing on those of the child. As it has often been said, parenting is the most important, most wonderful, and most difficult job ever.

Most parents are eager to do a good job. But it seems there is always something to learn: a new technique to try, a different struggle to overcome. Just when a parent feels competent and confident about an appropriate parenting style or technique, the child changes. Confidence and competence may be replaced by feelings of bewilderment and betrayal, as the parent needs to re-think, re-learn, or re-invent his/her approach. How can mothers and fathers learn to enjoy this constantly-evolving parenting puzzle?

It is important to have a plan.

Each new stage of a child’s development is accompanied by changes that, though they may challenge parents, are actually positive proclamations: the child is growing! Each stage requires a particular parental approach.  Armed with a little knowledge about those stages, parents can nurture the child appropriately, while anticipating and preparing for upcoming changes.

Below are a few tips for each stage of development that have been tried by thousands of parents with success.  Yet the most important thing to remember as a parent is this: Tune into the child you have, trust your gut, and respond accordingly.

Newborn to 6 months

The time to build strong emotional bonds for baby.

Feeding, diapering, cuddling, talking to, and playing with the baby — especially within a predictable pattern — promotes and reinforces growth and development, both social-emotionally and cognitively.  Those simple, everyday, interactive routines provide babies with love, stimulation, and contentment.

Resource Organizations » Parenting/Caregiver Advice and Support » Westwood

In Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Parents Helping Parents and Parental Stress Line

Parental Stress Line: 800-632-8188

Parents Helping Parents: 617-926-5008

Email: info@parentshelpingparents.org

Parents Helping Parents' (PHP) mission is to promote and support healthy parent/child relationships and break the cycle of child abuse through peer-led, professionally facilitated mutual help groups, providing a nurturing, non-judgmental environment in which to improve family relationships. PHP also offers a 24/7 Parental Stress Line that is free and confidential for parents looking for support and guidance. Parent Support Groups serve as a safe place for parents to express frustrations and concerns about their children and families and get advice from other parents.

Organizations without hotlines

Center for Early Relationship Support, Jewish Family & Children's Services (JF&CS)

781-647-5327

Email: info@jfcsboston.org

The Center for Early Relationship Support is a center of excellence for direct services, training, supervision, and consultation that focus on the earliest parent-infant relationship. Programs include free home visits for new parents, support groups for new parents, specialized treatment for parents with postpartum adjustment disorders, sleep and feeding consultations, services for premature infants, and programs for parents under 21 years old.

Children's Trust MA

617-727-8957 (p)

617-7277-8997 (f)

Email: info@childrenstrustma.org

Bringing parents together creates a support system and helps parents feel less alone.  Parenting Education and Support Programs help parents with young children enhance the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to be the best parents they can be. Group-based series are led by trained professionals and provide opportunities for parents to learn new skills, connect with peers, and receive information and resources.  Groups are accessible and held in child-friendly spaces, such as elementary schools and childcare centers.

Children’s League of Massachusetts

(617) 695-1991

The Children's League of Massachusetts is a statewide non-profit association of over 80 private and public organizations and individuals that collectively advocate for public policies and quality services that are in the best interest of the Commonwealth's children, youth and families. It is through public education and advocacy that the Children's League promotes the availability, accessibility, and quality of these needed services.

Common Sense Media

(212) 315-2138 (NY Office)

Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing trustworthy information and education needed to thrive in a world of media and technology.
Common Sense Media exists because the amount of time children spend with media and digital activities profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. Common Sense Media is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization providing trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.

CTI: Division of Child and Family Services

(978) 459-0551

The Division of Child and Family Services assists family self-sufficiency by providing nurturing, safe and supportive programs for families with children birth through middle school age. Its programs help low-income families meet their children's educational, social, nutritional, and health needs and encourage parents to participate fully in shaping these programs and services to best meet their needs. Last year, the Divison served nearly 10,000 Greater Lowell children and their families.

Enough is Enough

The Enough Is Enough mission is to Make the Internet Safer for Children and Families. EIE is dedicated to continuing to raise public awareness about online dangers, specifically the dangers of Internet pornography and sexual predators. EIE advances solutions that promote equality, fairness, and respect for human dignity with shared responsibility between the public, technology, and the law. EIE stands for freedom of speech as defined by the Constitution of the United States; for a culture where all people are respected and valued; for a childhood with a protected age of innocence; for healthy sexuality; and, for a society free from sexual exploitation.

Families First Parenting Programs

617-868-7687

Email: web@families-first.org

Families First Parenting Programs builds positive relationships between parents and their children by educating both families and the professionals who serve them through hands-on workshops.

Family Access of Newton, Counseling and Consultation Services

617-969-5906 x 125

The Parents Program offers teens and adults of all ages a comprehensive network of support services during pregnancy and the early years of child rearing. The program focuses on improving parenting skills, and works to ensure that young people realize their own needs and potential.
The Kayla Rosenberg House provides safe and affordable transitional housing to The Parents Program families who are at risk of homelessness and/or abuse, and who have demonstrated their readiness for independent living. In this environment, parents can work to become financially and emotionally self-sufficient, while they continue their education and/or enhance their job skills.

Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts

617-474-1143

Email: info@familynurturing.org

Nurturing Programs bring parents and children together to learn, have fun, and build supportive relationships with other community families. The Family Nurturing Center works in partnerships with others to offer a variety of Nurturing Programs in Boston and across Massachusetts. Original curriculum  is used (Nurturing Program for Parents and Children), as well as several adaptations (Prenatal, Teen Parent, Nurturing Fathers, Nurturing Program for Families in Recovery), and specialized programs have been developed to meet the needs of the communities we serve (Nurturing Our Babies, Birth and Foster Family, Cape Verdean Nurturing Program).

Family Service of Greater Boston

617-523-6400

Email: info@fsgb.org

Family Service of Greater Boston promotes the self-sufficiency and well-being of at-risk families and individuals through provision of innovative, culturally competent, and integrated health and social services, thereby contributing to healthy communities. In keeping with our mission, Family Service reaches 5,800 mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, and teens annually. We provide high-quality clinical mental health services for children and adults who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse. We offer substance abuse treatment, family therapy, parenting education, and child protective services to help troubled families stay together and rebuild their lives. In elementary, middle, and high schools, and in after-school programs across Boston, we offer mentoring for young people, school-based counseling, and prevention services aimed at reducing violence, early pregnancy, and substance abuse.

Family TIES of Massachusetts

800-905-8437

Family TIES of Massachusetts is a program for families of children with special needs and chronic illness, and the professionals who support them. Family TIES offers parent-to-parent support, information and referral services, and workshops to ensure that parents feel confident in caring for their children's special needs. The website offers information about services and supports, as well as personal experiences from early intervention through transition to adulthood. In addition, Family TIES offers regional coordinators who help parents of children with special needs get connected to support groups in their area.

Father Friendly Initiative, Boston Public Health Commission

617-534-9525

Email: info@bphc.org

The Father Friendly Initiative (FFI), is a "one stop" service designed to reintegrate the father into the family, specifically targeting men who have child support, custody/visitation, or court involved issues. FFI uses a holistic approach and offers a comprehensive case management program designed to accommodate the psychological, physical and social support needs of those men falling within the low to no-income range.

Fenway Health: LGBT Family & Parenting Services

617-927-6243

Fenway was one of the first in the nation to offer alternative insemination services to lesbians and today they continue to provide medical alternatives for achieving conception, as well as a support network, education, and advocacy. Fenway also provides resources, information, and educational services to LGBT-headed families. They hold educational presentations where parents can network.  They offer adoption resources, legal referrals, surrogacy resources and other information for prospective LGBT parents. 

First Connections

(978) 429-8284 x202 (Office Manager-Linda Jensen)

Email: lmatthews@jri.org

First Connections is a non-profit, family support organization that provides comprehensive services to families with young children birth through age five. Created in 1994 as part of the Massachusetts Family Network initiative, First Connections serves a large geographic area that encompasses twelve metro-west communities, including Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Sudbury, and Westford as well as Hanscom Air Force Base. The mission of First Connections is to assist parents, through free or low cost education and support, in developing the skills they need to be involved and effective parents and to connect these parents to each other and to their communities.

Freedman Center

617-332-3666

Email: freedmancenter@williamjames.edu

Freedman Center, a not-for-profit organization based in Newton, provides programs, resource information and support services for families, educators and employee groups. Freedman Center offers New Mothers and New Parents groups, special topic support groups, mental health and wellness referrals, and workshops for parents, early childhood educators and mental health providers. Mental Health and Wellness consultations are also available to schools and community agencies.

Futures for Young Parents

617-494-0444

Email: contact@justastart.org

Futures for Young Parents has a free GED program for pregnant or parenting young people between the ages of 15 and 21 who are receiving Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children. They are a part of the Just A Start Corporation, one of its 15 programs helping meet community needs in the Boston area.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren of Massachusetts

(617) 748-2454

Email: colleen.pritoni@state.ma.us

The Commission’s primary purpose is to serve as a resource to the Commonwealth on issues affecting grandparents and all relatives raising grandchildren. The interactive website is devoted to fostering education, networking, research, programs and support to grandparents and all relatives raising grandchildren.

Healthy Families- A Children's Trust Program

617-727-8957

Healthy Families Massachusetts is a free and voluntary support program for young, first-time moms and dads across the state. You can sign up for the program during pregnancy and continue up to your child’s third birthday. With Healthy Families by your side, you can build the bright future you see for yourself, your baby, and your family.

Learn To Cope

508-738-5148 (Main Office)

508-801-3247 (Peer Recovery Specialist)

Email: ltc@learn2cope.org

Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH), LTC has grown to have a full-staff who collaborate with communities across the state to spread messages of prevention, education, awareness and advocacy. Learn to Cope has over 9,000 members on a private online forum, 25 chapters throughout Massachusetts and most recently 2 chapters in Florida and 1 in Boise, Idaho. LTC families receive unique support and education from professionals and their peers. 

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

617-626-8000

TTY: 617-727-9842

The Department of Mental Health, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. This critical mission is accomplished by working in partnership with other state agencies, individuals, families, providers and communities.

MotherWoman

(413) 275-8623

Email: info@motherwoman.org

MotherWoman supports and empowers mothers to create personal and social change by building community safety nets, impacting family policy and promoting the leadership and resilience of mothers. MotherWoman provides various services including running support groups for new Moms in various locations in Western Massachusetts, providing training both for group facilitators as well as professionals and advocating for policy change.

Nurturing Fathers Program, Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts

617-474-1143

Email: info@familynurturing.org

Offers a structured group that dads can participate in to get a better understanding of themselves and their roles in the family. Each group explores family patterns in fathering, families as a team sport, problem-solving with co-parent, fathering sons and daughters, work and fathering, and many other issues. Each session allows ample time for participants to share their experiences. The groups are facilitated by nurturing fathers once a week for 13 weeks and meet in various locations around Boston.

One Tough Job, Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund

The Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund created One Tough Job to support parents by providing them with current, reliable, and practical information on a variety of parenting topics related to raising children from infancy through adolescence. The aim is to provide a general overview of topics, drawing from a variety of reputable and reliable sources.

Parent-Child Home Program

MA Statewide Coordinator: 617-964-2524

Newton Coordinator: 617-969-5906

Email: info@parent-child.org

The Parent-Child Home Program is a research-based and research-validated early childhood literacy and school readiness program. The Program successfully strengthens families and prepares children for academic success through intensive home visiting. The Program has a proven record in Massachusetts since 1970 when the first sites opened in Pittsfield, Newton, and Cambridge. Currently there are 34 sites from Pittsfield to Boston serving over 1500 families, living at or below the poverty line, in their homes, homeless shelters, and family child care homes.

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL)

866-815-8122

Email: info@ppal.net

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) is an organization that promotes a strong voice for families of children and adolescents with mental health needs. PPAL advocates for supports, treatment and policies that enable families to live in their communities in an environment of stability and respect.

Postpartum Support International of Massachusetts

MA Warmline: 866-472-1897

Helpline; English and Spanish: 800-944-4773

Email: psiofmass@gmail.com

The purpose of Postpartum Support International is to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Approximately 15% of all women will experience postpartum depression following the birth of a child. Up to 10% will experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy. When the mental health of the mother is compromised, it affects the entire family. PSI disseminates information and resources through the volunteer coordinators, its website, and an annual conference. PSI of Massachusetts is a volunteer organization of providers, survivors and other concerned individuals dedicated to the mission of PSI International. These support volunteers provide telephone and email support, information, and access to informed local resources.

Room to Grow

617-859-4545

Email: infoboston@roomtogrow.org

Room to Grow's innovative program provides parents raising babies in poverty with one-on-one parenting support and essential baby items throughout their children's critical first three years of life.

The Fatherhood Project

617-724-2044

Email: connect@thefatherhoodproject.org

The Fatherhood Project is a non-profit fatherhood organization in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, MA. The mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by empowering fathers to be active, informed and emotionally engaged with their children and families.  This organization provides a range of resources, from programming for fathers who are expectant or new fathers, fathers experiencing divorce, as well as Teen Dads.  The website includes resources on a range of topics of interest to fathers including podcasts, videos, books, and resources that are available for download.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness - Veteran and Service Member Resources

617-580-8541

Toll Free: 800-370-9085 (M-F 9am-5pm)

Fax: 617-580-8673

Email: info@namimass.org

The National Alliance on Mental Illness maintains a helpline for information on mental illnesses and referrals to local groups. The local self-help groups have support and advocacy components and offer education and information about community services for diverse communities comprising of LGBTQ individuals, veterans, active duty military members, teens, young adults, older adults and families. Local chapters can be found through the main website. For information about the Alliance's affiliates and activities in MA, contact NAMI Massachusetts.

Think:Kids

617-643-6030

Email: thinkkidsinfo@partners.org

Think:Kids is a program in the Department of Psychiatry at the non-profit Massachusetts General Hospital that trains adults in a revolutionary new way of helping kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Think:Kids aims to dramatically improve society's understanding and treatment of challenging kids. Think:Kids teaches a revolutionary, evidence-based approach for helping children with behavioral challenges. Through training, support and clinical services, we promote the understanding that challenging kids lack the skill, not the will, to behave well - specifically skills related to problem solving, flexibility and frustration tolerance. Unlike traditional models of discipline, our approach avoids the use of power, control and motivational procedures and instead focuses on teaching at-risk kids the skills they need to succeed.

Outside Massachusetts

All-Options

1-888-493-0092 (Talkline available M-Fri 10-1am, Sa-Su 10-6 EST)

(510) 817-0781 (Office)

All-Options (formerly Backline) promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for people in their decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.  Our Talkline offers peer counseling and support to people throughout the United States and Canada. They are the only national talkline that welcomes calls at any point during or after pregnancy, whether callers are looking for options counseling, support before or after abortion, or a chance to talk about parenting, pregnancy loss, adoption, or infertility.

 

Connect Safely

Connect Safely serves as a public platform to give parents, teens and all stakeholders a voice in the public discussion about social Web safety and youth. It empowers parents with information about the realities of Internet, mobile and gaming safety versus myths and scare tactics. It also educates parents and kids on real-life approaches and practices for safe, healthy social lives online. Connect Safely provides a central space for learning about the social Web with features that include the latest news that impacts Internet, videogame and mobile users; safety tips & advice on responsible Internet use, cyberbullying, social networking, blogging, gaming and media-sharing; a forum where parents and kids can interact with others to discuss Internet and mobile safety questions and concerns; and guest commentaries from the world's most-recognized safety advocates. Connect Safely's partner websites are www.safekids.com and www.safeteens.com.

Family Caregiver Alliance

(800) 445-8106

Family Caregiver Alliance is first and foremost a public voice for caregivers. Founded in the late 1970s, they were the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. Their services, education programs, and publications are developed with caregivers’ expressed needs in mind, to offer real support, essential information, and tools to manage the complex and demanding tasks of caregiving.

FAMpod: Families Overcoming and Preventing Depression

Email: info@fampod.org

The FAMpod website represents a resource developed by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, Judge Baker Children's Center and the Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives at the Wellesley Center for Women, Wellesley College to distill what they have learned from years of research, practice and advocacy into programs that are helpful for individuals experiencing depression, as well as those living with or working with individuals experiencing depression.  This effort has culiminated in the creation of 2 free programs both of which are available here.  The first, Parent Talk, is a resource developed for parents facing depression within the family and the second, Family Talk, is a training course designed for clinicians helping these families.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Email: RaisingGrandchildren@earthink.net

This website is designed to help guide grandparents and other relatives (kinship parents) in their efforts to raise, parent,  and educate these children and to find needed resources for the children as well as themselves.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Helpguide

When parents are absent or unable to raise their children, grandparents are often the ones who step in. Raising a second generation brings many rewards, including the fulfillment of giving your grandkids a sense of security, developing a deeper relationship, and keeping the family together. It also comes with many challenges. No matter how much you love your grandkids, taking them into your home requires major adjustments. But with the right guidelines and support, you can roll back the years and make a real difference in the lives of your grandchildren.

Military Families Near and Far

Email: MilitaryFamilies@sesame.org

Military Families Near and Far is a free, bilingual (English and Spanish) website where families can create, communicate, and stay connected. Developed for military families, the site provides new ways for preschool and school-aged children to express themselves and communicate within their own family networks. New interactive tools for creating art, music, videos, letters, cards, and notebooks help kids explore their emotions and encourage communication. Materials from Sesame Street's ongoing Talk, Listen, Connect initiative and new materials from The Electric Company provide resources for parents and caregivers to help children cope with challenging transitions. Parents and caregivers can find information and multimedia resources on the topics of military deployments, multiple deployments, homecomings, changes, grief, and self-expression in Resources for Grown-Ups.

Postpartum Men

415-346-6719

Email: DrWill@TheMensDoc.com

PostpartumMen is a place for men with concerns about depression, anxiety or other problems with mood after the birth of a child. It promotes self-help, provides important information for fathers – including a self-assessment for postpartum depression – hosts an online forum for dads to talk to each other, offers resources, gathers new information about men’s experiences postpartum, and – most importantly – helps fathers to beat the baby blues.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network

Helpline for Resource and Referral: 800-826-3632

312-642-0049

Email: helpline@thebalancedmind.org

The Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), a program of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), guides families raising children with mood disorders to the answers, support and stability they seek. The Balanced Mind Foundation envisions a world where children living with mood disorders thrive because their families have the resources, community and support they need.

The Birth Trauma Association

The Birth Trauma Association (BTA) was established in 2004 to support women suffering from Post Natal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or birth trauma. The organization's staff are not trained counsellors or therapists or medical professionals; they are mothers who wish to support other women who have suffered difficult births.  The BTA aims to offer advice and support to all women who are finding it hard to cope with their childbirth experience.  The website includes information for mothers, fathers, and family members about Post Natal PTSD, information about how to connect with other Mom's who have had similar experiences to get support, as well as lists of resources, including books and websites, that may be helpful to families experiencing Post Natal PTSD.

The Grandfamilies State Law and Resource Center

The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center serves as a national legal resource in support of grandfamilies within and outside the child welfare system. Our goals are to:

  • educate individuals about state laws, legislation and policy in support of grandfamilies
  • assist interested policymakers, advocates, caregivers, and attorneys in exploring policy options to support relatives and the children in their care
  • provide technical assistance and training

The Period of Purple Crying

801-447-9360

The Period of PURPLE Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby's life, which is a normal part of every infant's development. The acronym is a meaningful and memorable way to describe what parents and their babies are going through. The Period of PURPLE Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. There are other common characteristics of this phase, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE.  Purple stands for "Peak of Crying", "Unexpected", "Resists Soothing", "Pain-Like Face", "Long Lasting",  and "Evening".  This website provides information about coping with this period of child development including information about soothing, assessing the crying, impact on sleep, and information for Dads.