What will your group look like?
Although Effective Parenting Support Groups have certain
distinctions, there are many thing that make each one unique.
By answering the following questions, you'll be able to
determine what your group will look like.
What time of the day and day of the week will you meet?
Many groups meet on an evening each week which seems to
be easily accessible to people. Other groups choose an
evening with a lot of activity already, especially an evening
containing youth activities so that the children are cared
for. Other groups meet on Sunday mornings during an adult
education hour. Groups of moms often meet on a morning
during the week or a group of dads may meet on a Saturday
How frequently will you meet?
Most groups meet every week. This usually
provides adequate support for parents who are struggling
and the accountability for group members to keep things
moving in a positive direction. Because schedules are
busy and time is a commodity, some groups choose to meet
once every other week or once a month. These groups tend
to be less "hands on" when
it comes to involvement in the lives of group members.
How long will your meetings run?
Most groups choose an hour and a half to two hours as
a good length of time for a meeting. Having enough time
for both teaching and sharing requires you to schedule
the meeting with some margin to start late, enjoy fellowship,
and take care of items of group business.
What age of children will you target for this Effective
Parenting Support Group?
You may find broad interest in your group and invite anyone
to attend. This works well as long as people are patient
enough to deal with questions and needs of toddlers and
teens as well as preschool or school age children. This
is okay and provides opportunity for people to help others
at different stages of parenting and to gain greater perspective
of what's to come. However, when you think that the size
of the group or the needs of the group warrant dividing
up, you may have the groups focus on a particular age range.
Where will you meet?
Meeting at a central location like the church can be helpful
for directions and ease. It's convenient for a number of
reasons especially when there is a children's program running
concurrently. Some groups, however, prefer the comfort
and relaxed environment of a home. Still other groups will
meet in a neutral location to facilitate an outreach goal.
They may choose a local library, school, or community center.
Will you offer childcare?
One of the realities of parent ministry is that parents
have the responsibility of children who must be cared for.
If you don't provide childcare, then those parents must
find it on their own, often resulting in parents missing
meetings or only one parent attending. For this reason,
some groups choose to meet at times when children are already
in programs. A mom's group during the day, or a parent
meeting during the children's or youth activities may be
When will you take a break?
It may seem strange to decide when you're going to take
breaks but it will help you know when to set your start
date. Will you break between Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Although you may be tempted to do so because of busy schedules,
keep in mind that holidays are a very stressful time in
family life. Your support group may be an asset during
that time. Will you break for the summer? Again, summers
make group attendance unpredictable because of vacation
and leisure schedules, but the summer is often very stressful
on parents who now have their kids at home most of the
When will you begin to meet?
Choosing a start date allows you to
enter into the next step publicity. Give yourself
enough time to get the word out but not too much time
to lose the excitement of the group's beginning.
These are just a few questions to help you get started.
The Effective Parenting Support Group Leader's Guide walks
you through the process to design, publicize and lead a
EPSG Leader's Guide