How support groups can elevate your parenting skills

Is this normal?” or “Am I doing this right?”

Both are questions that may pass through caregivers’ minds multiple times a day as they engage in parenting. Along with those questions may come feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness and isolation. Feeling like you are an island, alone in your struggles, can be extremely debilitating. This is where parent support groups can prove to be enormously beneficial as part of your self-care routine.

Benefits of parent support groups inclulde:

Provide a space for you to feel validated in your struggles – knowing you are not alone in your experiences and others have been where you are at.

Offer a safe space to vent about issues when you feel you are at the end of your rope – sometimes having another person simply state, “It’s OK to feel what you’re feeling, I get it,” can be liberating.

You can share your highs and lows with eager listeners who are able to laugh and cry along with you.

Often groups can provide resources and referrals for issues related to parenting.

Present a place to appreciate your child for who they are and where they are at.

The connections you make with other members in the group can be long-lasting and provide significant positive benefits.

By engaging with a group you are adding to your overall wellbeing and this in and of itself is an act of self-care. Self-care, as defined by the National Institute of Mental Illness, is the radical act of improving your own health physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and professionally.

Studies have indicated that a positive family environment is influenced both by overall well-being and sustainable acts of self-care. Self-care can be as simple as brushing your teeth, moving your body or remembering to take your vitamins. It can also be finding community wherein you are able to commiserate.

By seeking support you are meeting your own needs, and that will have a ripple effect. As children often learn through observing caregivers’ behaviors and attitudes, modeling of self-care gives them permission to take care of themselves in a similar fashion. Further, by respecting your needs and boundaries your child will learn to respect their own.

Though every parent is unique, their experiences are not singular, and you are not alone in your journey. Your story and voice are valuable and deserve to be heard. If you are interested in joining a parent support group April 17 – June 5 from 6:30-8 p.m. email

Megan Bradley works at Bainbridge Youth Services, which has a monthly column in this newspaper.