How a Support Group Can Help Hurting Parents

by | Sep 1, 2014 | what you can do | 4 comments

support group1Are you a mom or dad who thought you’d lose your mind from fear and worry over your beloved child?  Powerless, you stood by watching while they began going down the wrong road of drugs, alcohol, and self-injury. Maybe they were diagnosed with depression, OCD, bipolar, anxiety or some other mental illness.

They’ve possibly revealed a Same Sex Attraction or have been living a gay lifestyle.  Your heart may be breaking due to their incarceration and ongoing trouble with the law.

Alone is not good on this journey. Your natural instincts tell you to keep it to yourself, but isolation only increases your pain and makes it worse. I want to tell you about something that can make a huge difference. It can help you more than you could imagine – being in a support group. You need to be in one. My husband and I attended Al-Anon and Celebrate Recovery groups. We benefited greatly. For various reasons, we eventually started our own – Hope for Hurting Parents Support Groups. I want to tell you what a group session looks like and how you could benefit.

We begin by reviewing our guidelines: Confidentiality is a must ; no pressure to talk; no commitment required – come when you can; offer no unsolicited advice, but be the best listener you can be. It’s not a place to find out how to fix your child, but a safe place to process your feelings and learn how to cope with what you can’t control.

An ice breaker question is discussed – for example: What adjective describes how you feel about your child today and why? First time visitors are invited to share their story after updates are shared. Then a topic is introduced and discussed, guided by asking open-ended questions. Parents are encouraged to interact with the material.

Relevant issues are discussed like: Grief and loss; anger and resentment; fear; worry and anxiety; guarding your marriage; self-care; forgiveness and gratitude.  We don’t use a teacher/lecture format. Rather, we use a facilitator/discussion format. It’s not a Bible study, but we do refer to scripture. And it’s not a prayer meeting, but we do pray for each other and our children. Both are such a blessing.

We can’t solve each others problems (that’s not the focus), but there’s tremendous encouragement is simply being with other parents who understand and don’t look down on you or judge you. You look around the room and say, “I’m really not alone! I’m not the only one!”  How comforting it is. Phone numbers are exchanged to develop an extended support system. We need each other to lean on during difficult days. Parents often leave saying their burden feels lighter.

Parents find peace, comfort, encouragement and a renewed sense of hope. You can have these, too. If you’re a brokenhearted parent, I urge you to find a support group today. Maybe you would even like to start one. We can help you with the Facilitator Manual we’ve just written. If you’re interested, let me know.

This Bible verse encourages the truth that we need each other:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other . . .If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) NLT








  1. peggy mills

    Hey Dena, I’ve often thought of starting a support group even if it is only me and one other mom, but I don’t have any idea how to connect with other parents, if not through a church or established organization. I have prayed for and attempted to discuss with other moms the possibility of such a group. So far it has not led to anything happening. So I was wondering just how does an individual find another one who is willing and able. It would of course require discretion and tact. You just can’t put an ad in the newspaper. Do you have a method to suggest? Thank you for your encouragement.

    Sent from Windows Mail

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      This is exactly what we did, Peggy: Telling our friends and asking them to help spread the word. We also went to our pastor and he helped advertise and promote it. That was a big help, but actually, most people have probably come to our group from word of mouth. You start small and trust God to bring those in need. I would suggest you pray about it, and if you sense the time is right, then go for it and see what happens! I would be happy to send you a sample timeline, helpful tips to get started, and one of our sessions to see what you think. Let me know if you want me to do that.

  2. Stacy Lee Flury

    Excellent. I would also mention that sometimes two parents can’t be out on the same night when there is a support group meeting. One needs to be with the child/teen to oversee and another to be at the support group. This way they can take turns and share with each other what they have learned. I would also love to see the manual. We have several families in our church who are experiencing some tough battles and I believe it can be a great avenue for the parents to get the support they need. God bless!

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Great suggestion, Stacy. And it does help solve that problem. Thanks for your input!