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Already, with only the Organizational meeting of my Support Group under our belt, I’ve got to figure out a way to deal with a couple of situations I don’t want to see get out of hand.

After the Organizational meeting I was told that one person whom had attended was ‘uncomfortable’ and felt intimidated, as she saw herself as the ‘only parent’ among professionals in the meeting. She apparently felt intimidated because she was “just a parent.”

There were 9 people in attendance at the meeting, one person is currently working in social services, two of us are former professionals, the rest of the people attending were parents. The two of us who are former professionals are also parents. I was a parent first.

I’m not sure how to deal with those feelings. I can’t imagine anything we could have done to make her feel that way. Everyone at the meeting listened to her, asked questions about her situation and frankly, she dominated the last hour of the meeting with her issues, which was not the intent or purpose of the meeting. Then she suggested she was ‘intimidated’ by being ‘just a parent?’

Yesterday I was made aware, by a mutual friend, that this individual is doing ‘outreach’ for our group to Doctors offices and Agencies outside the region we’re covering. She’d like to distribute brochures to these folks.

Typically, I’d be pleased and appreciative that someone was doing ‘outreach’ for the group, but others who’ve done so have coordinated with me, shared with me what information they are providing and who they are contacting. I’ve been keeping a log of agencies I’ve shared our flyer with, of providers who’ve shared resources with us. I have a data base of contact information for the people within agencies I’ve made connections with, so that I can follow up with them and I have a specific contact person to refer to.

I asked the mutual friend for a list of the contacts she was making and I’d like to coordinate with her, so there aren’t duplicate contacts being made.

I talked about having a ‘core team’ web-meeting the Wednesday before our monthly Saturday meeting, so we can coordinate, determine what needs to be done, what has been done and have a strategy for each meeting. The friend informed me that there was no way this individual could participate because they have no internet access. This exposed a couple of problems I’m not sure how I can adapt to or overcome… how can this individual coordinate with the team and be ‘on the same page’ if they can’t participate in web-meetings? how can this individual share contacts and resources with me if they can’t email them to me? I can’t have this individual offering or promising brochures to agencies or Doctor’s offices when I have to incur the cost of printing brochures. If I had the contact information for these folks she’s talking to, I could email the brochure to them and they could print them and make them available as they needed more.

I had told this person that I would not ask her to be part of the “core team” because she simply had too much to deal with in her personal life with the health concerns of her child. I agreed she could attend the meeting, as I could introduce her to our Sponsor to try to get her connected to a Peer Support Parent. I told her after the meeting I could look at her documents regarding her situation with her School District.

How can I allow someone to be part of the ‘core team’ when the ‘core team’ is going to share responsibility for the management of the group, if they aren’t able to attend coordination meetings, if they aren’t able to share what it is they are doing on behalf of the group, if I am not assured that they fully understand what the purpose and mission of the group is?

I appreciate offers of help, I want a trusted group of parents helping me with the management of the group, but quite honestly, I and our Sponsor have worked too hard and too long to develop a reputation and credibility for this group to not coordinate our outreach efforts.

I’m not sure how to resolve these issues without seeming unappreciative or unwilling to ‘give up some control.’ I believe I have to maintain a degree of control over our message and mission, otherwise we risk our credibility and frankly, my name is all over this group… MY name and ultimately my reputation within the community that’s carried over from my time as a professional.

I’ve got to spend some time thinking about this and I’m planning a ‘core group’ web-meeting for the Wednesday before our first meeting, September 12 at 7:00. I’ve got to figure out how to get one other individual in on the web-meeting as well. I just have no clue what to do in regard to this individual. I know what I should say and do, but our relationship began with her suggesting that she was ‘just a parent’ and felt uncomfortable. Geez, that puts me in an awkward position.