Parent support groups are a terrific way for parents facing similar, challenging situations in life to offer each other encouragement, share ideas, and generally reduce the stress of a trying time. Unfortunately, parent support groups are often started and lead by Moms who may have little experience organizing and managing a group. This can lead to poor outcomes for individual group members and great frustration for the group leader.
If you are struggling to get your parent support group up and running, here are some tips to help your group really take off!
- Learn from the experts: The staff at Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania have put together an online guide that goes through all the basics of starting and running a parent support group.
- Identify why people aren't coming.
- Talk honestly with your core group about your frustrations and limitations.
- Try to determine why word of mouth isn't helping your group.
- Consider merging: Maybe a parent's group focused only on a single issue (i.e. parenting a child with Down syndrome) isn't a major need in your community. If you can't create an active group, consider shifting to a group that meets the needs of a broader group of parents (i.e. raising children with special needs). One benefit of merging - access to another person used to leading. If both you and the other group's leader are stretched for time and energy, consider alternating the lead role. This way you each immediately have your workload reduced by half and can both benefit from the talents and experiences of the other.
- Make use of technology.
I hope that some of these ideas will help get your group growing into the active and productive one you envisioned!
~ Guest author: Lisa Simmons