By Justin Ruben
A friend of mine had a baby recently, and breastfeeding was extremely tough for her. Feedings went on for hours, yet the baby was losing weight. My friend felt exhausted, frustrated, and inadequate.
But thank goodness, she did a smart thing–she reached out to a bunch of us. Our outpouring was immediate. Parent after parent shared stories of similar experiences and feelings, and how things had turned out fine in the end. Friends came over. We made sure she saw a lactation consultant. Soon, she and her baby were doing much better.
When community works, it’s a beautiful thing.
But unfortunately, community can be hard to come by.
Before ParentsTogether, my previous gig was running the national online group MoveOn.org. We developed innovative new tools to make it easier for people to connect online and then come together in person to take political action—on issues like universal health care, democracy, environmental protection, or peace.
Every time we held an event, we asked people about their experience. Even though the events began with a political focus, almost without fail, what folks liked most was the new community—the connections they’d made, and the feeling of fellowship among like-minded people.
They were hungry for it.
I began dreaming about building an organization where community was a core focus—an organization that used technology and innovation to help people come together and solve each other’s problems.
Imagine the impact we could have if we were addressing people’s daily challenges, building community, and taking action together for a better world! As a dad, I became convinced that parents, especially, needed an organization like this.
Happily, I was not the only person thinking along these lines. As I was dreaming about it, Bethany Robertson had begun to build it. And now, I am thrilled to be joining forces and to lead the next stage in ParentsTogether’s development.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a cliché because it’s true. At ParentsTogether, our vision is to build villages–creating the tools and connections that help parents directly improve each other’s lives.
At the same time, ParentsTogether is also about social change. Making it possible for all families to thrive will take big, structural solutions. That’s why our goal is to build a multiracial, cross-class force of millions of parents to fight for high quality affordable childcare, great schools for all kids, paid family leave, and other crucial measures.
I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this work.
Being a parent fills our hearts with an inexhaustible love that transforms us. It carries us through the ups and downs every day, past the challenges and the fear.
That love pushes us to fight for the very best for our own kids.
That love compels us to pitch in when a friend begins their parenting journey.
And that love burns in our chest when we see kids anywhere living without enough food, housing, dignity, or care.
When ParentsTogether supports parents and takes action for families, we are powered by love–for our own kids, and for all kids. I believe there is simply no greater force in the universe.