FAQs About Starting a Parent Discussion Group Using Raising Our Daughters or Raising Our Sons
- Share our Book Flyer and the Discussion Group Flyer with people to help you find out who might be interested in starting a group with you.
- Finding a friend to work with you can be helpful, but it is not essential. You can refer interested people to our Web site (www.family-empower.com) to get all the information needed to make a decision to participate.
- Decide whether you want to form a group with an existing support system in your life such as friends, parents of your child’s friends or sports team members, parents in an existing playgroup, family members, neighbors, book groups, and so on.
- Focus on people who have a child the same age (and sex) as yours or include parents of children of a variety of ages. There are benefits to both approaches. We’ve found that groups that include spouses, when relevant, and that have similar-aged children (1-3 year age range) are the most likely to continue meeting after the course is completed. Some of our women’s groups have continued as support groups and turned into mother-daughter groups.
- Think about whether you want this group to be a women’s group, men’s group, couples’ group, or a mix of interested parents (the most common).
- Alternatively, organize groups by going to your children’s school or your place of worship; advertise through existing channels such as newsletters.
- Encourage school counselors or vice principals to become involved. They are often happy to help sponsor Raising Our Daughters and Raising Our Sons parent discussion groups. One counselor at a middle school in Portland, Oregon, had so much interest from the parents at her school that she started 6 groups at once.
Don’t I Need to Be an Expert to Start a Group?
Our groups are made to be parent-run—“Guidelines for Discussion Groups” are given in the front of each book. You’ll need one or two people to serve as Organizers, keeping the group on track for the logistics of meeting days, etc. But the role of Facilitator should rotate each session among participants. Facilitators are simply parents and not experts. They only need to read the chapter, look over the discussion questions, and keep the conversation rolling.
What is the Ideal Size of a Group?
A group can be as small as 2 or 3 people or as large as a dozen or more people; we recommend 8 to 12 people. If you have a planning meeting where more than 12 people show up, consider dividing up. For example, your group could be divided by availability (morning-evenings), location, or age range of kids. If selecting the latter, keep in mind that a 1-3 year range between the kids’ ages works best.
Setting a Time and a Place
One of the benefits of organizing a group yourself is that you have a large say in the creation of the group and the time and place it will meet. Sometimes it is helpful to set these parameters ahead of time and include them in your advertising, although other groups will decide at their organizational meeting (i.e. the first meeting).
Some groups meet during the day and others meet in the evenings. School-connected groups often meet just after dropping off their children in the morning. Evening groups usually like to end early enough so that everyone can get home in time for bedtime and may include childcare (perhaps an older sibling).
How Often Should We Meet?
Many groups meet once a month, which is especially effective if a group starts at the beginning of the school year. Other groups, however, may decide to meet every other week or even weekly, if they have the commitment to do quite a lot of reading each week. Some groups even meet over the course of a few years!
Where Should We Meet?
Groups can meet in neutral settings like a local school, church, community meeting room, restaurant, or participants’ homes. Whatever the setting, parents should feel free to speak openly without fear of children listening in.
Set the day, time, and place for the first meeting. Having a comfortable setting and snacks is an excellent way to begin. Let people know that making a group book order over this Web site (www.family-empower.com) is the most economical way to purchase books. Arrange to do this either at or before the first meeting.
This Web site provides you with an excellent video for getting started called “Tips for Running a Successful Parenting Group” to use at your first meeting. Handouts entitled “Guidelines for Parenting Groups” and “Class Schedule and Sign-Up” are included in the introduction to the book. This will help you to schedule the upcoming meetings and chapters to be covered, usually one at each meeting, unless a group decides to spend more time on a chapter.
You can also find helpful handouts that you can download and copy in the Organizer’s Manual for Starting Raising Our Daughters/Sons Parent Discussion Groups.
Still a little concerned you don’t know what to expect? Check out the Introduction and Chapter One Overview of Raising Our Daughters or the Introduction and Chapter One Overview of Raising Our Sons.
You’re on your way …
You have started reading and discussing information that will help you and your family thrive in today’s complex times. In the 14 years of fostering parent discussion groups using Raising Our Daughters and Raising Our Sons, we find that parents often feel accepted, understood, heard, and supported in addition to feeling confident and competent. Groups have met for as long as ten years, seeing their kids through high school and into college.
You likely will feel connected to other families, get lots of new ideas about parenting and building assets, and feel supported in your parenting efforts. Your kids will have the added benefit of feeling connected to the caring adults in your group. Early cultures knew that it takes a village to raise a child; you’re on your way to reviving this ancient wisdom in your life. Congratulations!