Chapter 24 (complete chapter)
THE SUPPORT GROUP
196 -- YOUR ALLIES
principles in this book, will attend their meetings, and will provide individual and family counseling. This counselor will not take over the group. This is to be a self-help group. Instead, he or she is to be there as a quiet monitor and as a resource person for the group.
As a monitor, the counselor will see some of the teenagers in private counseling and will be at meetings to be sure teens are being properly and appropriately represented to the group by their parents.
For example, my monitorhood was very important in a case where a woman came to the group to seek support for forcing her sixteen-year-old daughter to be more receptive to her fourth marriage. She accused her daughter of being rebellious and inconsiderate. In talking with her daughter in private counseling, I discovered that the girl wasn't being rebellious at all. She was just saying, "Mother, I can't emotionally handle another of your marriages. Can't you just let me get through two more years of high school before you bring another stepdad into my life?" Had I not been there, the group would have heard only the mother's side of the story and may have supported the mother in putting inappropriate pressure on her desperate and pleading daughter.
As a resource person, the counselor, being trained in both psychology and Christian principles, will be a wonderful source of information and guidance. As the ally with connections, he or she can help parents know where to turn (or not to turn) for additional help.
For example, one of the parents in our group recommended a counselor I knew was not against smoking pot or having sex outside marriage. I cautiously and courteously advised against him and saved this family from a disappointing (and an expensive) wrong route.
Note: The counselor's attendance at the meetings should be without cost. But parents should expect to pay a fee for private counseling.
Another note: Be sure the counselor has been selected in harmony with the guidelines for choosing a counselor provided in this book. Be absolutely sure to check with several families who have received counseling from this counselor. The actual reputation of the counselor is the true test. In checking the reputation, you are not looking for someone who succeeds in all situations (since success is controlled by the clients as well as by the counselor); you are looking for someone who uses reasonable counseling procedures and counsels within the perimeters of traditional Christian moral values.
How about the agenda?
Every meeting contains the following elements:
1. The meetings are two hours in duration. The first hour
is for teaching, and the second hour is for applying the teaching to
individual situations, sharing with one another, and supporting one
2. The meetings are presided over by a parent (or a set of parents) who
serves as volunteer coordinator for a period of six months.
3. Before the meeting, participants gather early for coffee and
4. The meetings begin promptly at the appointed time with a reading of
the towers of conviction. These are read at each meeting without exception.
This discipline keeps the convictions before the group and helps new participants digest them.