I encourage those interested in practising Joyful Parenting to find or form a support group that meets regularly to explore, study, discuss and share experiences of putting the skills presented in this book into practice. Exploring the five skills with others can open you to new perspectives and encourage you to dive deeper into questioning your own stressful stories.
Guidelines for a Joyful Parenting Support Group
- A Support Group aims to be a safe, compassionate environment in which to explore, share and practice ideas about joyful parenting.
- Group members agree to respect the confidentiality of personal and family information shared by other group members during a meeting. There should be no discussion of these matters outside the group meeting unless it is with the consent of the person sharing the information.
- When someone is sharing their experience, do not judge what they are sharing. If asked for, give feedback by speaking from your own experience. For example, you could say; “It is not my experience that children need to be punished for being rude.” Reference could then be made to the relevant skill in the book “Joyful Parenting” (Skill 3: Speaking from the Heart would be relevant to this example) or to a peaceful way of dealing with the situation that you have used.
- Group members can agree on a facilitator for the group who can ensure that all those who wish to speak get an opportunity to do so, who can suggest material for the group to read, facilitate group decisions about what to read for the next meeting, organise the start and end of each meeting and take responsibility for the venue.
- It helps if there is an agreement for group members to take turns in sharing their experiences. This can be done within a pre-agreed time limit (eg. 10 minutes each), it can be open ended, or it can be at the discretion of the facilitator how long each person speaks for. The facilitator can take responsibility for making sure that there is a balanced amount of time for each group member to participate, unless the group agrees otherwise. The group may decide to use an object as a “talking stick” that is held by the person sharing. The person with the talking stick should not be interrupted unless they invite questions or comment from other group members.
- No one should act as a teacher or try to dominate the group. A support group works well if everybody is open to receiving observations and suggestions from other group members and is participating to enhance their own growth and learning. It may be the case that one or more members of the group naturally fall into a mentoring role. This is different to a situation where one person claims authority and dismisses alternative points of view.
- A Support Group is usually free of charge. If printed materials are shared a donation to cover costs may be requested. There may be a need to share the costs of a suitable venue.
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