University of Illinois Extension

Be a Good Support Group Member

Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator

In the last issue, we talked about the benefits of joining a grandparents support group. For a group to be successful and beneficial to members, everyone must do their part. Each individual will have specific reasons for attending a support group, but everyone needs to remember that the group is there for the benefit of all participants.

Here's how you can get the most out of your support group.

  • Attend as often as possible. Everyone has busy schedules; but for a group to be effective, members need to attend often. With regular attendance, you'll get to know each other and develop a sense of trust within the group. Regular attendance will also insure that the group keeps functioning. If people don't attend, it is hard to continue offering the group.
  • Share and participate in the program. You may not feel like talking much at first. But as you get to know your group members, take your turn to share your feelings and opinions. When expressing yourself, be sure to allow time for other people to have a turn. Do not dominate the session with your own problems - to the point that other members don't have a chance to talk.
  • Be a good listener. When other people are talking, be attentive and really listen to what they are saying. By making an effort to listen and understand, you will be able to support each other more effectively.
  • Support the group's guidelines. Take turns volunteering for such tasks as bringing snacks, helping clean up after the meeting, or whatever needs to be done to keep the group functioning.
  • Most important of all, good support group members keep the meeting discussions confidential. If participants are to feel free to express their feelings, they must be confident that what they say won't go beyond the group.

Help make your support group successful by being a good member. Attend regularly, share and listen, volunteer when needed, and always keep group discussions confidential.