Welcome today’s guest blogger Val Bush, one of our Hope for Hurting Parents teammates.
I recently watched an interview with comedian Chris Rock. When asked who he is at home, he immediately answered, “First and foremost, I am a dad. I have two daughters, age 20 and 18.” He was quick to add, “They’re on the way out. So, I’m trying to figure out who the ___________ I am.”
If we’re not careful, our identity becomes absorbed into our role as a parent. That works okay for us, I guess, if our kids’ lives reflect perfection. If they don’t, however, we try to figure out where we went wrong. We intensify our pain during difficult seasons by giving ourselves a “parent fail” award. The next question is, who am I if I’m not a good parent?
To add insult to injury, there are usually few people around us with whom we feel safe opening up about the issues we have with our kids. Even if we are well-connected within our church or community, we feel safer to keep these heavy burdens to ourselves—then we isolate.
A Refuge for Hurting Parents
Over the years, Hope for Hurting Parents has provided a refuge for thousands of parents in unexpectedly difficult points on their parenting journeys. Parent support groups exist to allow parents the opportunity to process their pain and confusion in the company of others who understand. Not only are these gatherings judgement-free, but they focus on encouraging everyone who attends.
Topics including Grief and Loss, Guilt, Anger, Guilt, Worry and Anxiety, Powerlessness and Control are discussed using materials written by HHP founders Tom and Dena Yohe. As groups walk together through topics pertaining to their difficulties, they also focus on Communication, Courageous Love, Thankfulness and Forgiveness. God often uses this context of community to shed His light on our circumstances and to bring the focus back to Him, our one unchanging source of hope. One mom in my group recently quoted author David Powlison,
“To open one’s heart to one’s friend—it doubles our joys and cuts our griefs in half.”
The Bible encourages us to: Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 AMP).
Hope for Hurting Parents’ Goal
Our HHP team’s goal is for support groups to be available to brokenhearted parents in every community. We’re seeing God answer our prayers as we receive multiple requests each week from people interested in beginning new groups. This summer, our team is helping new facilitators launch groups in California, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Costa Rica, and Canada. Public online support groups are also now meeting each day, Monday through Friday and now, online too. [Update: Since then we have many more new groups, even in South Africa and Scotland!]
Recently, a new parent to our group said, “your love and support mean the world to us—more than you know.”
I do know.
Her words brought me back to the excruciating days of navigating our son’s addiction. In those days, a parent support group met around my kitchen table. The other moms impacted me beyond anything I could have imagined. My own hope was restored as we came alongside one another and learned what it meant to bear one another’s burdens. I felt a little vulnerable at the beginning, but five years later I can see how God used those women. They helped me make my way through the fog of pain and emerge not only with my faith intact, but with a heightened awareness of God’s faithful presence in my life.
If you’ve felt like you won the “parent fail” award, this is my hope for you too–that God will help you find your way through the pain with your faith intact and a heightened awareness of his faithfulness.
**To find support go to our website or Facebook page. If you need further assistance, reach out to us at: hope@HopeforHurtingParents.com
Learn more about Val Bush and her role on our team.
** (from the archives)