Parenthood is a roller coaster.
It's a total thrill ride with twists and turns that can be both exciting and scary. A community to rely on when things get tough can be one of the best resources parents can have.
Especially if you're going through something that other parents around you can't relate to, finding people who are dealing with the same challenges and experiences might be the best thing you can do. There are all kinds of parent support groups available, from an autistic parents support group to a single parents support group, and you can even set one up if you can't find the right one in your area.
So if you're wondering what you can expect from a parent support group, and how a group for parents could help your family, then we've got all the info for you. And why not take a look at our articles about sleep regression at different ages, or social media and how it affects kids' self-esteem too?
What Are Parents Support Groups?
Support groups for parents are just what they sound like: small groups of people, typically moms and dads, who meet with a trained facilitator to support one another through the trials and triumphs of parenting.
Parent support groups originated in the early '80s in California as a response to growing numbers of children being identified as having learning and behavior problems within schools.
Today they typically work in the same way. Every week, usually on a weekday after work, you arrive at the same place at the same time to meet with your group. There are no requirements to attend; it's up to you if you decide to come every week or not. The struggles that you share with the group during meetings will stay anonymous, so you don't need to worry about your worries being shared around your local area.
Your facilitator will help you get to the root of your issues and then work with you to find solutions for them. You'll be able to talk about whatever is weighing on your mind, without judgment from any of the other parents who are attending.
Your facilitator is there so that no one feels left behind. He or she will make sure every single person gets the opportunity to voice their concerns and challenges, and other parents can offer support and guidance if they're going through the same challenges.
What Can Parents Support Groups Help With?
No matter what your family's situation, parenting support groups can help you and your loved ones with the following:
Feeling less alone in your struggle. Many parents are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they feel lost at times. This is where parents' support groups come in handy, as you have the opportunity to meet other parents with similar experiences to your own.
Finding someone to ask for advice. Many parents are afraid to ask for advice from friends or family members, feeling as though the wrong people might offer the wrong guidance. At a support group, you will be able to get helpful guidance from people with similar experiences.
Help with parenting challenges. Some parents find that there's no way their child will listen and they simply give up on trying to teach them how to act around others. Your facilitator will make it possible for you to learn how to do a better job of teaching your kids acceptable behavior and interpersonal skills in all situations, and this can be invaluable for creating a healthy and balanced home life.
Building stronger relationships with your children. If you constantly feel as though you are at odds with your children, you are not alone. Parenting is often difficult and many parents wish they could find a way to make it easier on themselves. Working with a facilitator will help you learn how to be more effective as a parent, leading to a stronger relationship between your family members.
Your child's behavior may be improved. You will have help from someone who is not directly involved in your situation, so they can give you sounder advice than someone who is too close to the situation. Your facilitator will help you learn how to deal with typical childhood problems in an effective and supportive manner.
There really are support groups for pretty much any problem you might be having with your child or teen because if you are having issues with kids and teens, there is likely always other people who are handling the same struggles too.
There are support groups for step-parents and young parents, and special adoptive parents support group meetings too, for parents who are new to the adoption process.
You may want to attend an estranged parents support group or a divorced parents support group if you are going through estrangement or divorce.
You could also find an aging parents support group or a grandparents as parents support group if you find yourself in this situation.
If you have lost a child, or someone dear to you, you may want to attend a grieving parents support group, or a bereaved parents support group to speak to people who understand what you're going through. There are specific support groups too, for example for parents who have lost a child to drugs, which could help you to come to terms with your loss and move through your grief.
If you have a child with special needs, then a parenting group in your community could be a great place for you to share your positive and challenging experiences with other families having similar experiences.
Kids that struggle with their mental health can be overwhelming for their families, and school resources might not be helpful, so parents could definitely benefit from a group set up to support those supporting kids with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
If you can't find the right support group for you, then you might want to think about starting your own. The first step to starting a parent support group is to identify the needs of the intended support group. Most likely this is something your family is going through. Reach out to your community for other people going through the same issues, and connect with anyone who might benefit from joining your support group. Once you've arranged your first meeting, you can discuss openly how the meetings can help you all, and provide the most support and benefits. Discuss what needs are most important for this group to address and decide how often you will meet.
Before you start meeting, it might be helpful to set a goal or rules that everyone must follow. For example, no one can talk about a child's behavior at the meeting. Or no one can tell anyone else what to do with their kid. Set a time limit for each topic and ask group members to write down topics they want to discuss. Then, at the end of each topic, put an idea on a piece of paper and see if anyone else would like to add something.
All About Online Support Groups
If you can't find the right group for you in your local community, then you might want to look at online support groups to find one that suits your needs.
Some parents of kids and teens may find that they can be more open in an online support group than in face-to-face groups and that they may feel more comfortable sharing details with individuals who are not their parents or their children's friends.
It can be easier to stay anonymous online if you are feeling ashamed or embarrassed to share your feelings with friends, family, or even face-to-face in a group. Often you can connect with a support network that is going through the same issues as you all over the world, and help each other from the comfort of your own home. If you live somewhere isolated, then a support group online could be the best social opportunity for you to talk about your teens or children and the issues you are experiencing.
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.