Pennsylvania Parents and Caregivers Resource Network

Quick Ideas

Maintaining Parent Groups

Here are some ideas that may be helpful for maintaining your group.

Sometimes it seems that only a few persons are doing all the work for the group. And often this is true. If the leadership style is very authoritarian and efficient, members of the group may feel that they are not needed. If they feel they are not needed, the group may start to diminish in size and/or commitment to the purpose. Leaders who "do it all" quickly burn out and often become angry when they find they really are "doing it all"! Often they do not understand why they did not receive help from others. Usually, they felt they were the only ones who could "do it right" and did not want to share the tasks. Sharing the tasks, will help members feel valued. They often will make an investment of time, talent or funds to sustain the group and its work.

Each member has something that she/he does well. It is important to determine the skills and talents of each member and determine how these can contribute to the well-being of the group. This can be done during a meeting where the members list their job skills, hobbies, and talents. Many skills from jobs or hobbies are transferable to the work of the group. For example, the person who likes to cook may be the ideal one to coordinate a spaghetti supper fund-raiser. The computer expert maybe able to upgrade an older computer for use in creating public relations materials. Whenever the group has a new goal or interest, consult the list to see who may be able to make the best contribution to the task.

Do be sure that all members, new and old, are warmly greeted when they arrive. Introduce new members and have a packet of information for them about the group and its purpose. If someone does not wish to participate, please be understanding. If you are kind, they may return at another time. Since most of the members are parents of children with disabilities, there may be sporadic group attendance and participation because of unexpected medical or emotional events. These are the times to call members and offer support. When another parent seems the least cooperative, this may be the time that he/she needs you the most.

What do you do about that person who has "all" of the answers? This parent may become an asset to the group as the librarian, researcher or historian. The person who seems to have all of the "news" about the group, may be an excellent newsletter editor! Look for the positive in each person and try to put it to work for the good of the group.

Your groupís power can be increased by working with other groups for sponsoring speakers, forming alliances for impacting school system changes and educating the community about the childrenís positive contributions. All or some of these ideas may help your group stay active.

717-561-0098 PPCRN 1-888-5-PARENT

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