Do you have any advice or information about starting up support groups for parents?

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Hello everyone!  I am looking for any advice and information about starting up support groups for parents.   I have a wonderful lady in my church (who is our parish nurse) that has been really excited to start a parent group in our community.  We have had a lot of expressed interest in this with other local parents.I am helping her get some contacts and some ideas on how to start it, how to organize meetings, what to discuss...anything!  I would love to hear back from anyone that is part of a group like this and let me know how your group works....Looking forward to hearing from you :)  melissa

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Hi, Melissa.  It is great to hear from you again.  I loved your story in the Breaking Barriers - and your daughter is beautiful.  I tried to send something earlier this afternoon with links.  Did it send?

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Well, apparently the network thought I was sending you spam!

I am glad someone wants to get a group started out your way.  Our local children's centre offers groups from time to time.  One of the regular session is done by Amy Baskin who wrote More Than a Mom.  That might be worth checking out: http://morethanamom.net/

Sibshops is another good link for resources on siblings of children with special needs.  http://www.siblingsupport.org/sibshops

I would also recommend Bethlehem Baptist's website from their disability ministry.  This is the church where John Piper preaches  - in Minneapolis.  A Baptist church that is almost more reformed than some of our crc's!  http://www.hopeingod.org/ministries/family/disability-ministry

Our local centre is currently offering a course from Triple P stepping stones parenting that might also have some good links: http://www10.triplep.net/?pid=2032

Hope these give you a few ideas.  How are things going?  Are you finding a balance with work and home?  I've thought of you from time to time, wondering how it is going.  Peace for your week, Melissa.

 

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Participant

Hi Melissa,

I, too, was glad to read your story in Breaking Barriers.  Thanks so much for sharing it.  Steve and I struggled with infertility, too, so I understand that part of your journey, as well.  Never lose sight of the fact that God is up to something big in your life.  Just take one day at a time, and gradually it will unfold before you.  His ways are always so different that what we would have imagined, though...and often much more difficult.  But He patiently and lovingly hangs on to us -- even when we're kicking and screaming.

We've never been part of a support group.  I think part of that was because our son's disability (mental illness along with learning disabilities) just kept leaking out over time.  We always knew he was a difficult child (extremely...), but didn't realize the depth of his illness until he reached adolescence.  Even now, at age 18, we're more aware of issues and how they are affecting his life.

I did struggle with feeling isolated, but I can't help but wonder if that was all part of God's bigger plan for my life.  Out of this isolation and our enormous struggles, He led me to write a Bible study for moms who have children with special needs.  It's entitled, Unlocking the Treasure: A Bible Study for Moms Entrusted with Special Needs Children.  It was published in June.  Last week I began this study with 8 other women in my community, most of whom have adult children with special needs.  I was so touched by all of their stories as they openly shared their on-going struggles.  I'm looking forward to the next five weeks as we go through Scripture together and discover God's promises to us -- moms who have children with such issues and challenges. 

If you would be interested in a book (or several, if you would like to do the study with some other women), please contact me and I would be happy to mail some to you.  The cost of the book is $16.95 (US)...I know you can purchase them cheaper on Amazon, but I would be willing to mail them to you freight-free (!).

My email address is [email protected]

Blessings to you, Melissa, as you listen to the Lord and His call on your life.

Bev

Thanks for all the quick replies and great advice!  Bev, I actually just purchased your book and paged through it this morning :)  Do you think it is more geared to mothers?  (we have a few men in this group as well)  I have also checked out all the websites.  There sure is a lot if information out there!  My family is doing well.  It still is a bit of an adjustment with work but it's getting easier.  I would love to chat more but I hear Savanah waking up from her nap and she does not sound too happy :)  Have a wonderful day today.  Melissa

Guide

Melissa, Besides the one Bev refers to, I can think of three support groups for parents right off hand. I'll send your message to the leaders of each group and hope that one or more will also respond as well.

Hi Melissa,

We have had two meetings so far of our support group, "Always a Parent". At present, the disabled children have Aspergers Autism, Bipolar, Learning Disorders, Down Syndrome, and PDD-NOS. We are intending on opening up the group to the community at large, now that we've worked out some bugs.

For study material, we're using Bev's material, as that matches our needs. We think we could adapt it IF any fathers came to our group.

We're meeting once a month in our church office. It is less intimidating than meeting in a church (for the unchurched).

Mark had some links to other material in the most recent Breaking Barriers.

Are you overwhelmed yet? :-)

Paulina

Guide

Paulina, Thanks for the shout out. The article you refer to, Resources for Parents, is in our newest edition of our newsletter, Breaking Barriers.

I appreciated the last issue of BB, as I told Mark already.

This is in response to the postings, which also gives me a chance to tell Paulina that my "Always A Parent" group at Holland Christian Homes (the one whose name she took over, wonderful!), is alive and well.

We met last Friday evening and 18 people showed up this time, including  three or four for the first time. There appears to be a real need to continue to do this, we are into our fourth year already and I think we'll hold to the pattern of two meetings in the fall and two in the winter/spring. Not too many so we do not get meetinged out, so to speak. There are several support groups here already, for Parkinsons, the visually impaired as well as for Alzheimers. AAP is a large umbrella, it includes several parents with offspring dealing with Downs, two parents involved with myotonic dystrophy, several with schizophrenia issues , a number who deal with developmental disorders, bipolar, etc. It is a group of folk who, in a sense "have been there", one in the group has a son in his mid fifties already. In a way they are tired after all this time, but, again, they are ALWAYS a parent, still involved in various ways.

Our spring meeting featured the Temple Grandin movie, last week we just met over coffee and I asked everyone to tell a 'good' story covering the last summer and raise an issue if they wanted to. Only one (new) person passed. There is a real sense of being there for one another, if only to experience a special bond, even just when happening to pass each other somewhere in a store.

Late November we'll probably see "The Rainman", one in the group has a copy of it.

I hope to check some of the resources referred to. There is a dearth of time to read everything and there is work to be done.  Phil Reinders' recent piece was good!