I'm a huge fan of The Diane Rehm Show which airs weekdays on WUNC from 10-12. Ms. Rehm always has the best guests talking about topics that I'm interested in and the show on community in August was no exception. That day one of her guests was author Susan Pinker. Pinker's new book is called The Village Effect: How Face-To-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter. Totally up my community-minded alley, right? Here's my review.
In short, I love this book. That's (almost) all you need to know. Seriously. But if you must know more about the why and determine whether or not you must read this book (yes), keep reading.
Introverts might not like this book. In The Village Effect Pinker is essentially saying your connection with others is what determines health and happiness. And not just your connection with your family, although that's part of it. Your connection to the broader world including family but also friends, co-workers, neighbors, other church members, book club buddies, fellow gym rats, etc. Other people are not "hell" but vital ingredients for a happy, healthy life.
The Village Effect looks at moms relationship with babies, teens and screen time, charming swindlers, sufferers from chronic disease and others as she delves into how the inter-personal contact that we have influences us. Pinker explores why dining with friends feels good to us (provided they are the “right” friends!), how pregnancy can actually be contagious, why kangaroo care is so good for mom and baby and what is about men dying more frequently after the death of their wife than women do after their husband dies.
Pinker closes this must-read by looking at how we can create the village effect in our own lives. Some of that list that I think are the most pertinent for moms, especially new moms, are: “create a village of diverse relationships” and “adjust the ratio of face-to-face to screen communication, according to your temperament, just as you adjust how much and what you eat according to your appetite”. I say “pertinent” because new moms are still coming to terms with our changing identity. So “diverse relationships” and “face-to-face time" take on new meanings and I think, increased importance. Being a new mom can be very isolating. If you were hesitant before about joining a group or making new mom friends, Pinker’s book shows us just how important it is for us to be with other people.
Speaking of face-to-face time, Toddler Group starts Saturday January 3. Join a new community (along with your toddler!) and a small group of other moms for 6 sessions as we sort out toddlering together, with plenty of resources, support, community and self-care along the way.