• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

New Presidio of Monterey Parent Support Group Provides Information and Social Opportunities for Families | Article

ByJulie J. Helfer

Jun 7, 2022

Zoe Merritts (right) head of the Presidio of Monterey New Parent Support Program, leads the new parent support group at Army Community Service, Ord Military Community, Calif., June 1.
(Photo credit: Winifred Brown)


PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. — New parents and expectant parents looking for information, social contact, and encouragement can find all three at the Presidio of Monterey’s New Parent Support Group.

Zoe Merritts, group facilitator and manager of the facility’s new parent support program, said she provides information on one topic each week and attendees also have the opportunity to participate in an open dialogue about n’ any topic related to children with herself and other parents.

“It’s a great way to [parents] to talk to each other, have some communication and network with each other,” Merritts said. The group aims to improve the well-being of military families and, ultimately, the readiness of troops.

The group is open to parents of infants up to 12 months old, and expectant parents are also welcome. It meets at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday at Army Community Service, Ord Military Community. Informational sections typically focus on topics such as infant nutrition, routines, sleep, and development.

At the June 1 meeting, Merritts, also a registered nurse and mother of two, talked about separation anxiety and the importance of getting enough vitamin D, but attendees spent most of the time talk about a wide variety of child-related topics.

Khala Carter, who attended with her 7-month-old daughter Mila, said she started coming to the group when it started in February and found it helpful as it provides her with a community of other parents in similar situations.

“The information that [Merritts] gives us is great, but it’s also great to connect,” Carter said. “You leave the house. You talk to people who are going through similar things, and for me it’s more about this social concept.

First-time mothers, in particular, might find themselves comparing their parenting experiences to picture-perfect images on social media and thinking they’re sometimes the only one struggling, Carter said.

“They realize, talking with the other moms, ‘Oh wait, it’s not just me,'” Carter said. ” ‘This is perfectly normal.’ You can tap into the minds of other moms for suggestions and find out, “I went through the exact same thing. This is perfectly normal. Here is what I did.

Mariah St. Jeor, who participated with her 7-month-old son, Enoch, said she had also participated since the group began and found a fun community where she and her son could find social interaction.

“I think it’s great for the social aspect,” St. Jeor said. “Sometimes you just need to get out and socialize with other people when you’re a new mom — not lock yourself in the house.”

St. Jeor said she particularly enjoyed the information Merritts provided about military resources, but found it to be a great place to learn more about resources available to new parents.

The New Parent Support Program also offers a “Baby Boot Camp” class which includes a wide range of information on caring for babies. The next course will take place on June 8 and 9 and registration is compulsory.

For more information or to register for the course, email Zoe Merritts or send a direct message through the Presidio New Parent Support Program Facebook page.

Visit the Army Community Services website to learn more about programs available to soldiers, civilian employees and families. To find information about services for a specific installation, search for it in the MWR location directory and click the corresponding MWR link.