Chapter 24 (complete chapter)
THE SUPPORT GROUP
THE SUPPORT GROUP -- 197
5. A chapter or portion of this book is taught at every meeting--perpetually. Once the group makes it through the book, the process begins again. Immediately before starting through the book again is a good time to advertise for new members.
Parent volunteers do the teaching. The concepts and principles must be so thoroughly digested that they become reflexively reproduced in thought and conversation and action. If a portion of this book is not taught at every meeting, the group will inadvertently drift away from its concepts. One of the most tempting temptations will be for the group to digress into informal opinion sharing rather than holding fast to these concepts and principles. When participants become familiar with these ideals, everytime someone mentions a concern, the commandment, conviction, strength, or principle that applies will instantly spring from someone's lips. The group must learn to talk the talk.
Our group had fun videotaping the volunteer teachers of this book. This helped in two ways: The videotapes were checked out to new people who needed to digest the material immediately, and the videotapes were used instead of "live" teachers the next time we went through the book. Watching one another on video added the pleasantries of home movies and bound us closer together as a group.
6. Allow each parent or set of parents to give a one- to three-minute summary of the reason for coming to the group (no one should be forced to share, however). That way the parents in attendance can identify others who could be most supportive of them. There will be parents of thirteen-year-olds, parents of seventeen-year-olds, parents of adult children, and so forth; there will be parents of runaways, parents of children with discipline problems in school, parents of children who are making poor grades in school, parents of pot smokers, and so forth. These folks need to find one another.
These three-minute summaries also serve to assure parents that their's is not the only family in trouble. Sharing at this level stimulates and hastens companionship.
An extremely important note: We stress at each and every meeting that everything said in our meetings is to be held in the strictest confidence. Stories are not to be retold, even with names changed. Violation of the confidentiality rule causes automatic and immediate expulsion from the group. Fortunately, we've had to expel only one couple.
7. The coordinator announces how the small groups will be formed. We try to assign people who have similar problems to be in small groups together. This is done before the break so that people can go immediately to the small groups at the end of the break.
8. Break for coffee and fellowship.
9. The small groups convene. (A new support group doesn't break up into small groups because its members are few. When numbers increase and veterans develop, it will be appropriate to break up into the smaller groups.) The small groups are led by veterans of the program, and they meet for forty-five minutes. Their purpose is to...
let each parent or set of parents share specific problems.
receive suggestions on how they might handle their problem(s) in harmony with the Seven Commandments for developing parental posture, the Fifteen Towers of Conviction, and the other concepts and principles within this book.