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The following is an excerpt from the book On Becoming Fearless 
by Arianna Huffington
Published by Little, Brown and Company;
April 2007;$12.99US/$16.50CAN; 978-0-316-16682-9
Copyright © 2007 Arianna Huffington

It Takes a Tribe

As we work through the endless challenges of parenting, there is no substitute for building a little tribe of family and friends around us. When I was growing up, raising children was always the task of an extended family that reached far beyond blood ties.

From the time I became a mother in 1989 until my own mother's death in 2000, she was devotedly involved in the raising of my daughters. And my sister has been like a second mother to them. Unfortunately, the extended family is now increasingly considered an Old World curiosity, like horse-drawn wagons and dinner conversation. Every time the child care crisis comes up for discussion, I wonder where are the grandmothers, where are the great-aunts, where are the grandfathers and the great-uncles? Languishing in senior citizens' homes? Watching soap operas? Playing bingo? Or spread across several time zones, waiting for their quarterly phone call and their yearly Hallmark card?

When, as a child, I ventured onto the streets of my neighborhood in Athens, I was never far from home because I had learned from my earliest experiences that every home was open to me and any woman on the block would mother me as surely as she would her own child -- with a bandage, a spinach pie, a scolding, or a hug. It's hard to re-create that experience in America today, but we need to conjure up its spirit.

I learn a lot from talking with other mothers. It gives me perspective and the strength we get only when we're not alone. This has become all the more important to me since my mother's death, because being in her orbit made it much harder to cling to my fears. One of my last memories of her is at the kitchen table late at night, after she had made sure that everything had been taken care of around the house, writing longhand on a yellow pad her responses to an "Ask Yaya" section I had started on AriannaOnline, a Web site I had at the time. She had gone from standing up to the Nazis to dispensing online advice -- mostly about fearless living -- to people all over the world. And now the online community we have created on the Huffington Post is a place where parents can put politics aside and share their experiences. As Huffington Post commenter MJ Reynolds writes, "Talking with other parents and sharing our stories always helps me. I find that I am more understanding of the 'mistakes' made by friends or relatives than of my own. Being able to sit with friends and commiserate and laugh over our child's picky eating or refusal to wear shirts unless the neck tag is cut completely off helps me realize that we are more alike than different."

Copyright © 2007 Arianna Huffington