You are a parent looking for help and support but you are not quite sure if a Parents Anonymous Group is for you.
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 18, 2012
Here are a few reasons a Parents Anonymous Group may be a good fit for you:
Welcoming: Members are made welcome by the facilitator and parent leader from the moment they cross the threshold.
Free: There is never any charge for attending a Parents Anonymous® support group. Members may donate to the organization but there is never any pressure to do so. Many provide refreshments and childcare free of charge.
Autonomy: Parents Anonymous® accepts funds from national and local governments, businesses and private individuals but they cannot dictate how the groups are run. Groups follow the Parents Anonymous® model.
Meeting Sites: The meeting venues are safe, clean, well-lit, comfortable places for parents and children to gather. Most sites are in social service buildings, schools, offices or churches.
Facilitators: Professionals are well trained in the Parents Anonymous® model and are there as a resource with knowledge of child development and links to outside services in the community. They do not direct the members but they do assist when needed.
Self-Direction: Members are in charge of what they say and questions they ask. Members are in control of their group participation and home situation. Members are only asked to adhere to the policies of confidentiality, anonymity and of not judging others.
Confidential: When the doors close, members understand that what is said in the group, stays in the group. If members meet a member outside the meeting they do not acknowledge the other or mention Parents Anonymous® unless they both mutually agree.
Ownership: The groups belong to the members who attend the groups. The members choose a parent leader from among their ranks, decide how to sign in, in what order members speak and for how long. Members may also use a curriculum during a portion of meeting time. People from media or an agency may request permission to visit and the members can choose to allow or deny entry.
Stress is Lessened: When members internally compare their problems to another’s difficulties, their own seem to shrink or disappear completely as they gain perspective. Problems are often seen as more manageable after attending.
Experience of Others: Two heads (4 or 6) really are better than one. Members are listened to, understood and responded to with comments and possible solutions. When members leave the meeting they take new options home to think about and try.
Networking: Members often find the best pediatricians, therapists or even mechanics by word-of-mouth. Members know where to save money and how to find the best resources within their area.
Empathy and Sympathy: With empathy, members experience similar circumstances. With sympathy, they share feelings but not the experience. Members experience both from time to time.
Encouragement: Parents Anonymous® members encourage each other in their journey to find solutions for their families.
Nonjudgmental Environment: Members will not be judged by any member or facilitator because everyone finds their own road to solutions at their own pace.
Advocacy: Members find their voice to make change happen. Members learn and are encouraged to advocate for themselves and their family. Advocacy may be with a school, doctor, legislator or other professional.
Latest Information: Members have access to educational printed materials from up-to-date resources. The Parents Anonymous® headquarters hosts a lending library with parenting information and handouts.
Feedback: Members can be so deep into a situation there appear to be no answers or no options. Other members provide feedback and often point members to solutions or strategies not seen before.
New Skills: As members learn to communicate or advocate, other group members can help practice or role play until they feel more comfortable in what they are doing.
Social Interaction: Friendship and camaraderie is the enemy of isolation. When members have been at home with small children for a time then speaking with other mature adults is vital. Isolation can lead to depression and stress.
Self Esteem: Members know more than they think! Members helping each other increases everyone’s self esteem.
Continuity: Fellow members show they are interested and care by asking for updates. “How did it go last week?” “Did you try the method we spoke about?”
Venting: Parents Anonymous® groups are a safe place for members to talk about anything. If angry or upset, the group members are there to listen.
Workshops: Parents Anonymous® provides groups with workshops by calling headquarters: 1-609-585-7666.
Acknowledgement: Members celebrate accomplishments or successes large and small. Finishing classes, mending relationships, quitting smoking, etc. are all reasons to take a bow.
Groups are Open-Ended: Attendance is not mandatory, attend as long as you want or need to. For some fill their need in a few months, others in a few years; the choice is up to each individual.
Helpline: The Family Helpline can supplement meetings with a quick call to a trained volunteer in times of stress or just to talk. In New Jersey: 1-800-843-5437 or 1-800-THE-KIDS. A volunteer’s main priority is to “Listen First.”
Online Support: Members who cannot get to a group locally can attend Parents Anonymous® groups online. Go to http://www.pa-of-nj.org and scroll down the menu to “Parent Support Group Online,” click on “Chat” then “Chat” again. Register with a screen name and e-mail address. Meetings are currently Wednesday 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Thursdays 12 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Get the Reminder: Sign up to receive e-mail reminders for the online groups with attached parenting articles, fun activities, word searches, cryptograms, calendars and current event notices at the contact page.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS
Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
Join the Online Support Group
Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST
Facebook: Parent Rap – Soup To Nuts
Parents Anonymous® Inc.
Phone: (909) 621-6184
Fax: (909) 621-0614
National Parent Helpline
1-855-4A PARENT OR 1-855-427-2736
Hours: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST