Succeed is a program designed for primary parents who have been successful in working with their Children Services agency to lead support groups for other primary parents who are currently going through a case plan. A primary parent is defined as a parent who has or had an open case with a child welfare program. Since, the establishment of Succeed is based on primary parents taking on the role of leadership of these groups, any facilitator leading a Succeed group is a primary parent. Support groups are a time that parents can share and learn from other parents that have or have had open cases, build a network of support, discover where to find resources and encourage each other. Counties offering Succeed Primary Parent Support groups include: Cuyahoga, Stark, Richland, Hamilton, Montgomery, Mahoning and Summit
The mission of Succeed is to provide hope, support and empowerment to primary parents, to strengthen them to become effective, caring parents for their children. The mission statement provides the guiding principles for everything we do.
Hope is at the core of any self help group. For parents who have had their children removed from their home or are at risk for removal, hope for a better life is a major motivator to become engaged in the support group. When primary parents hear from parents who have had similar struggles and have overcome obstacles, they begin to listen. When they hear parents who have changed and tried new approaches in relating to the agency, relating to community support and in parenting children, they open up to changing themselves. When they see that they can receive support from others in the group, they have the energy to try to reach out to others. All of these important steps begin with the hope of a better future.
Effective parenting includes providing a safe and permanent home for our children. Effective parenting is not easy to describe in what we do today, but it is best understood in what we want for our children. We want them to have positive self-esteem so that they feel good about themselves and what they can accomplish. Also we want our children to feel valued as unique and likable individuals. We want them to grow up to be responsible and productive adults. There is no one approach, but there is a great deal we can learn from each other’s experience. We can read, hear speakers and work together to support each other in developing approaches that we can use to become effective.
We also need to recognize that we may share our parenting with other parents, for instance foster parents, kinship parents, respite parents and in some cases adoptive parents. In sharing parenting it is best that we find a way that all the parents involved can work together to be effective in raising our children.
Support from our families and our communities have always been at the core of individual success. The ability to ask for, receive and give support is first learned in our own families, and then practiced in the larger communities we live. However, for many primary parents they may not have received support themselves and therefore have not had others to reach out to for support in parenting others, feel isolated, and are overwhelmed by the demands of daily living. If they have become dependent on drugs or alcohol to cope, it may have made this lack of ability to receive and give support even worse.
In a peer support group, parents can learn to ask for and receive support. They can learn about different types of support and have the experience of reaching out to the group. Parents can hear from other parents how they received support and worked with their child welfare agency. Also, the group can be a resource for finding other needed social supports (family, friends, and community organizations). Group members can share how a higher power has provided support to them in their own lives.
To become an effective parent each of us must feel empowered to be a leader within our own family. Leadership in our own families begins with being a role model to our own children. Showing them positive values and behaviors in our own lives. Primary parents also need to be able to be empowered to advocate for their children and families with the child welfare agency and with other community services. How to become empowered within our families and in the community can be demonstrated and taught through the experience and resources of the peer group.
Besides being effective as parents, we also need to be truly caring about our children’s needs and who they are becoming as individuals. As parents we want what is best for our children. Knowing what is best and then doing what is needed is often difficult. Sometimes what we want and need personally conflicts with what our children want and need. Figuring out what we should do and then doing it is probably the most difficult part of being a parent. Support can come from other parents who have experienced many of the same tough decisions. While other parents can’t make the decisions for us they can help us look at possibilities. They can coach us on how to act, encourage us to be calm and to react in ways that is most helpful to our children’s development. Follow through sometimes is not easy, but the group can serve as your cheerleaders in moving forward.
In being caring parents we will give more to our children than they will give back to us. So at the same time we are parenting we need to take care of ourselves. In a peer group of parents we can learn to develop a balance of taking care of our children and taking care of ourselves.
I learned how to stop being overwhelmed. That my children’s feelings are important and hear what my child is saying.
The topic of parenting helped us talk about our own childhood and the differences in us and our kids and parenting roles. A lot of participant emotions. It was all well recieved – a true support group.
This group helps me to have faith that I can get my kids back that they are coming home and for me not to give up hope.