By Kelly Shealer, API Leader and Support Group Co-Leader
When did your group form?
When a parent comes to your group, what can he/she expect? What meeting format do you have?
We generally have a round-robin format where all parents can respond to questions or discussion topics. We have a set topic for discussion and some time at the end of the meeting for general questions.
What kind of discussions does your group have? What are some common questions that parents ask?
Our group tends to end up on the discussion of either how to sleep (and/or the lack of it) and how to navigate personal needs vs. family needs. We as leaders come with a topic and support any of these conversations as needed.
Locally, in Maryland, we have a large contingency of parents who are new to the area and have one child, and who then typically have one or two more children then move away. It is transient here, so we get quite a bit of fluidity in our group. Also, our group has a contingency that spends a good amount of time social networking, and these members appear to get their emotional needs met in this way. The half dozen or so that come regularly to our group more often than not don’t know anyone or have made a friend through API.
Some common questions include: How can I get some sleep or get my child to sleep? How can I spend more quality time with my partner? How do I discipline my child when he/she bites or hits or yells? How can I get more connected to like-minded parents in the area?
Are children welcome?
Yes. We meet in the community room at a library with plenty of space for children to play.
There is a stigma associated with support groups, as well as to support in general. What would you say to a parent that said he/she didn’t need a support group because those are for “people with problems”?
Our support meetings don’t just focus on problems. We also like to encourage people to share what things have worked for them and to help other parents. It’s also a great place to meet new people and form a community with other moms.
Anything else you’d like to share about the importance of parents attending API Support Groups?
We have a lot of first-time moms or moms who are new to the area and looking for a way to connect with others, and API Support Groups are a great way to meet like-minded parents.