JP Moms creates a virtual village

October 21, 2011
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JP Moms, a group of moms, dads and caretakers in and around JP make daily use of a powerful resource—each other.

“Our kids don’t come with how-to handbooks,” said Divya Kumar, one of JP Moms’ moderators. “We’re here to offer guidance, support and a listening ear to each other.”

The listserv group was created in 2003 by new parents who wanted to stay in touch as their babies outgrew a new parents support group. Slowly, through advice, support and commiseration, the group grew. It now has around 2,300 members from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Roxbury, Mission Hill and parts of Brookline and Dorchester.

“When I was pregnant, about 10 different people told me to join,” said member Audrey White. “I had heard great things about it. It’s a great resource for all things to do with parenting.”

And unlike what its name suggests, it welcomes all child caretakers, not only mothers.

JP Moms has had a few forays into civic engagement as a group. It vocally opposed the use of recycled-tire mulch in playgrounds in the Southwest Corridor Park until its removal late last year. JP Moms also petitioned the MBTA to continue to allow strollers on buses early last year. But JP Moms keep largely to itself.

“But it’s a good way to spread the word about different causes that local parents might be concerned about,” White said.

JP Moms usually stick to simpler matters, like the best way to get a child to nap or the best choice of car seat for a small car, White said.

“We try to be the village for each other,” Kumar said.

The group also runs a classified section for sharing and passing along child necessities and clothes. It is also occasionally used to organize meet-ups.

“I think everyone has a different perspective about what they get out of JP Moms,” White said.

An unexpected joy to belonging to the group, Kumar said, is meeting members face to face.

“It’s really nice when you go to a restaurant or a park, and you meet someone in person” after interacting online, she said.

While welcoming of new members, the group guards its privacy.

“What’s said on the forum stays on the forum,” Kumar said. “But it’s not a secret society,” she explained.

This is so when a member wants to address a sensitive topic like a miscarriage or other tragic events, they will feel safe to do so, White said.

When that happens, “the way the community comes together to help others is always mind-blowing,” she said.

New members can sign up for JP Moms at bigtent.com/groups/jpmoms.