“Just another irritating support group,” I thought to myself, as we drove toward the city. “They’re probably going to tell us all the things we’re doing wrong as parents. And then, they’ll belittle us and make us feel stupid in front of everyone!” I was growing more and more frustrated with every mile I drove that afternoon.
In our near decade of parenting, eight of those as foster parents, we had been down the “judgmental support group” road before. Many times, actually. Before I had even arrived to the group’s location I had made up my mind. And I didn’t want to go. But I did. Mostly because I had left work early and then climbed Mt. Everest to buckle 6 squirrelly children into our van. Yep, we were going alright!
I’ll admit it- I childishly trudged toward the front entrance of the building. And, after checking our kids into the childcare, I childishly plopped down in my seat in a blandly decorated conference room. I didn’t make eye-contact with anyone because, honestly, my bad attitude was directing every ounce of my being at that moment. When the facilitator entered the room and said a cheerful “hello” to everyone I faintly smiled back at her and promptly returned my gaze to the solid table before me.
But then something happened. The facilitator opened up the group by asking all of us to share our personal stories as parents. Around the table, parent after parent shared their struggles, their joys, their regrets, their mistakes, and even their deepest and darkest sins. It was refreshing. No one pretended to have all the answers, including the facilitator! As each person shared she simply nodded. And then it got to us. And we shared, and we choked up, and we laughed.
And, she nodded…at me…at us!
My heart suddenly opened. My attitude drifted away. I felt understood! I felt heard! I felt hopeful! And I no longer felt alone.
All of that came from a simple nod.
Let’s be honest: as parents, we all need someone to nod at us, don’t we? We need someone to look at us and understand that we feel hopeless as parents sometimes. We need someone to hear us say that we feel disconnected from our kid and we don’t know how to reconnect. We need a voice or a look that says, “I know, I’ve been there, you’re not alone, there IS hope!”
Some of the most powerful, healing moments I’ve ever experienced as a human or a parent have not come from reading a book, attending a workshop, or seeing a counselor (although there’s nothing wrong with any of these). They’ve come when I’ve discovered that other people, other parents, struggle through the same things I do. When I’ve discovered that someone else’s teenager has made a horrible choice. Or someone else’s son battles tooth and nail with them over homework. Or someone else’s daughter has thrown an embarrassing tantrum in a public place. Or other parents have felt like giving up and quitting like I’ve felt like doing before.
The point of this blog is NOT to give parents all the answers to their problems. It’s not a “how to do this” or “how to do that.” Truth is- I don’t have all the answers to everything that parents struggle with. This blog is a nod. It’s an “I know. I’ve dealt with the same bad behavior. I’ve cried the same tears. I’ve felt the same hopeless feeling when my kid was out of control.”
Being a parent is a journey. It’s an adventure. And it’s one of the most painful, terrifying, joyful, difficult, miraculous things we will ever do as human beings. But it’s NOT hopeless. And you are NOT alone! We share a lot of the same wounds and scars.
No matter what age you or your children are, or even what stage of life you’re in as a parent- I invite you to join this community and take part in the discussion! Let’s do this together.
In what ways have you felt hopeless as a parent in the past, or now? How did you find hope? Join the conversation!