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Managing my Support Group is even more frustrating and challenging than I’d first anticipated.

I managed the first ‘speed bump’ that challenged me, by allowing individuals who were not committed to the group to excuse themselves. I then found that the group that was left was very committed, enthusiastic and willing to do whatever they could to help me get the group up and running.

We’ve had two official parent meetings thus far, but now I’m struggling within myself, as to how to handle new situations.

We decided to have a monthly ‘web-meeting’ the Monday before our Saturday meeting. We thought using Skype made the most sense. The members of the support team said they were willing to install Skype and use that for the web-meeting, everyone agreed it was a good idea to organize before the meeting so we could determine who would assume which responsibilities and roles during the meeting.

One person installed Skype, but didn’t know how to enable cookies, so we adapted for that person, putting them on speaker phone so they could hear the conversation we were having on video chat and could be heard by the parties on the web-meeting. One person was sent three or four ‘contact requests’ and messages explaining that we needed to be on one another’s contact lists so we could include them on the video chat, but didn’t respond to any of our contacts.

One person has indicated they would be at both of the monthly parent meetings, but didn’t attend either.

I’ve been working very hard to ‘let go’ of some of the tasks that need to be done… allowing my ‘co-facilitator’ to take a more active role, but I think I’m letting go a little more than I should.

She’s so enthusiastic, she jumps right in and has a lot of good ideas. We’ve enacted a lot of her ideas and she’s tweaked some of the things I already had done.

Our sponsor had made contact with the gentleman who’d offered to be our first guest speaker. I had emailed him, but neither of us received a response. My co-facilitator apparently knew him and was able to get a commitment from him about his appearance. He corresponded almost exclusively with her, even though I did, again, email him and give him an outline of the agenda, letting him know he had 30 min. to present and 15 min. for questions and answers. He didn’t acknowledge this.

Our web-meeting, the Monday before the monthly meeting, included putting together an agenda and discussing the way the meeting would be organized. We all agreed on that.

The night before the meeting, my co-facilitator emailed me suggesting we should scrap the agenda and allow the speaker to have as much time as needed, reducing the length of the break and completely eliminating the opportunity for parents to ‘share’ their concerns and issues. She also let me know she needed to leave earlier than last month.

She thought that ‘sharing’ is too negative and if they have questions they can email us or contact us online and we can answer their questions.

One member contacted me before the meeting to say they weren’t attending at all.

My husband and I set up almost the entire resource table before the rest of my team arrived.

The speaker and my co-facilitator arrived together. I wasn’t even introduced to him. I had to pull him aside and introduce myself and explain who I was. They went about getting him set up.

He went way beyond the 30 min presentation and 15 min question and answer times allotted. His presentation lasted for more than an hour and 12 min.

I was video recording it (with his permission) to post it to our group’s website and facebook page for folks who couldn’t attend. I knew there were length limits on some sites for posting videos. I was hoping I would be able to break the videos down into smaller increments for posting.

I have spent a week trying to upload these videos, to break them down into 10 or 15 min. segments. I can’t upload them anywhere. I’m still working on it. It’s caused such stress for me I’m developing a serious migraine. I’ve been so disappointed as I’ve struggled with this all week.

I wish folks could be respectful, would understand that there are justifiable reasons behind decisions that are made, not everything is arbitrary. I also hope that folks understand that while I encourage their input and ideas, I can’t say ‘yes’ to everything they suggest and saying ‘no’ isn’t personal.

This support group is sponsored by an organization that promotes parents supporting and helping other parents. They connect parents who can listen, understand, be caring. Having a segment set aside at each meeting for parents to share their concerns is vital to the mission of the sponsoring organization.

It also allows us to give some one on one attention to the needs of each parent who is looking for support and do so in a personal way.

If we were going to provide a video of our presentations, post the handouts and answer questions online, what is there to motivate parents to attend our meetings?

My co-facilitator has been distant since this issue came up.

I’m not good at saying ‘no’. I’m very self-conscious of having to turn people down. I don’t like to disappoint, but I realize that in this case, there will be times when I need to preserve the integrity of the purpose of the group.

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