Family Groups Can Work for Solo Parents
The Family Groups exist to bring each one of us in touch with the reality of life and the presence of our faith at grass roots level. It is easy to sit down and discuss the problems of others, even to analyse and categorise them, so that one ends up with a neat little package. In the meantime people live, rejoice, suffer and die. Families grow, diminish and often break down.
In the past it can be said, as a generalisation, that very often in the parish community when a marriage breaks down the partners quietly slip through the cracks or were often regarded as failures. They were treated with charitable suspicion and distance.
It is true to say that the parents are divorced once, but often the children suffer, to some degree, a sense of divorce each weekend. No amount of rationalisation and explaining to the children seems to take away these difficulties completely. A solo parent has, therefore, not only to go through the normal maturation problems of the growing children, but also has to endure these in difficult circumstances. Often the parent who lives alone with the children has no other adult to share this with.
Enter the Family Groups
These Family Groups are not conceived to be neat little social gatherings where everyone is nice and polite to each other on a totally superficial cocktail level. Our Family Groups, for the most part, contain some 15% of solo families.
Solo parent families are not an optional extra, but are an integral part of the Family Group Movement. It is true to say that if they are not present in our Family Groups, since they exist in the parish, then our Family Groups are not in touch with grass roots reality. If these solo families are included in each Family Group as vital and equal members, then the Family Groups will grow strong and the relationships will deepen.
One mother had the following to say regarding her involvement and ‘belonging’ to an extended family. “This is the first time since I’ve been divorced that I can go along to a social occasion without a partner and just feel part of the group without any embarrassment. The other members respect me as I am.”
It has been the experience of many that solo parents and families bring a special challenge and richness to the group. Many of the parents have suffered deeply and have developed a deep sense of compassion and acceptance. Solo parents and their families are in their turn helped, supported and enriched by the group.
They see that other families often have the same difficulties as they do financially and emotionally. For sometime after the initial breakdown, solo parents often need the support of other solo parents who understand their plight. But there comes a time when they and their families must be welcomed into the full participation in the parish community. Family Groups offer them this opportunity.