“Basically, they share the good, the bad and the ugly about being a parent.”
The PACES Parent Support Group has taken on a new importance for local parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vicki Johnson, Parent and Community Educator at PACES, facilitates the meetings alongside Carrie Owen, Parent Support Specialist. Johnson says that when the pandemic began affecting Kansas City, she recognized a need to give parents a space where they could talk about issues related to coronavirus.
Over the past couple of months, the group has tackled conversations about the effects of COVID-19, how to talk to children about the virus, and anxieties about the upcoming school year. The group also discusses current events. Johnson remembers being particularly proud of how the group handled a conversation about race and how to talk to children about it.
“The parents all had different ideas,” Johnson said, “but not one of them criticized the other and they were open to trying another parent’s way of approaching the topic with their child. It was harmonious and beautiful at such a difficult time in our country. It was something we all needed to see and feel.”
In addition to discussing current events and their relation to parenting, the meetings also provide time and space for parents to talk about their parenting successes and struggles from the week and get feedback from peers.
Despite taking the meetings virtual, Johnson says the Parent Support Group has seen growth during the pandemic.
“We are consistently seeing 1-3 new parents every week. Parent Support Group is becoming a place for parents to feel safe and be able to lean on others for help and stress-relief from parents. They now know they are not alone.”
You do not have to have a child enrolled in services at PACES to be part of the Parent Support Group. For parents, caregivers and community members who are interested in joining the Parent Support Group, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.