Are you a mom or dad who thought you’d lose your mind from fear and worry over your beloved child? Powerless, you stood by watching while they began going down the wrong road of drugs, alcohol, and self-injury. Maybe they were diagnosed with depression, OCD, bipolar, anxiety or some other mental illness.
They’ve possibly revealed a Same Sex Attraction or have been living a gay lifestyle. Your heart may be breaking due to their incarceration and ongoing trouble with the law.
Alone is not good on this journey. Your natural instincts tell you to keep it to yourself, but isolation only increases your pain and makes it worse. I want to tell you about something that can make a huge difference. It can help you more than you could imagine – being in a support group. You need to be in one. My husband and I attended Al-Anon and Celebrate Recovery groups. We benefited greatly. For various reasons, we eventually started our own – Hope for Hurting Parents Support Groups. I want to tell you what a group session looks like and how you could benefit.
We begin by reviewing our guidelines: Confidentiality is a must ; no pressure to talk; no commitment required – come when you can; offer no unsolicited advice, but be the best listener you can be. It’s not a place to find out how to fix your child, but a safe place to process your feelings and learn how to cope with what you can’t control.
An ice breaker question is discussed – for example: What adjective describes how you feel about your child today and why? First time visitors are invited to share their story after updates are shared. Then a topic is introduced and discussed, guided by asking open-ended questions. Parents are encouraged to interact with the material.
Relevant issues are discussed like: Grief and loss; anger and resentment; fear; worry and anxiety; guarding your marriage; self-care; forgiveness and gratitude. We don’t use a teacher/lecture format. Rather, we use a facilitator/discussion format. It’s not a Bible study, but we do refer to scripture. And it’s not a prayer meeting, but we do pray for each other and our children. Both are such a blessing.
We can’t solve each others problems (that’s not the focus), but there’s tremendous encouragement is simply being with other parents who understand and don’t look down on you or judge you. You look around the room and say, “I’m really not alone! I’m not the only one!” How comforting it is. Phone numbers are exchanged to develop an extended support system. We need each other to lean on during difficult days. Parents often leave saying their burden feels lighter.
Parents find peace, comfort, encouragement and a renewed sense of hope. You can have these, too. If you’re a brokenhearted parent, I urge you to find a support group today. Maybe you would even like to start one. We can help you with the Facilitator Manual we’ve just written. If you’re interested, let me know.
This Bible verse encourages the truth that we need each other:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other . . .If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) NLT