When I hear the phrase ‘support group’, for some reason, I always picture a circle of chairs in some conference room or social hall, name-tags with first names on them, and awkward introductions of the format, “Hi, I’m [so-and-so], and [yada-yada-yada].” Followed, of course, by “Hi, [so-and-so].”
Last night, for the first time, I went to a meeting of a support group for dads with children who have developmental disabilities.
Truthfully, I’ve not been against going to a support group. I’d not known that such things existed specifically for fathers – I’d known about the one or two in the area that were for parents/caregivers in general, but at the point I’m at with the issues we’re facing, I’m not in the mood to go to a session where there’s tears and whatnot about what our kids can’t do, or how hard it is to watch what other people’s typically developing children can do that our children should be doing. I’ve long ago gotten myself reconciled to the fact that the Monster isn’t quite on the same path as other kids his own age, that he may well catch up at some point but it’s not where we are now, and that I’m going to deal with it from that point of view.
The wife, though, suggested that it might be helpful for me to go to the support group once she’d found out about it, so last night, I found myself driving across town to attend. The group in question also provides childcare if you need it (there are some single dads in the group), and food so that we don’t have to worry about grabbing dinner after work before attending.
The group I joined last night is fairly small – a few of the ‘regulars’ were missing, and I was one of two new joiners last night. It’s nice to hear that there’s other people who go through the things that we have – that the IEP meeting we had wasn’t that much longer than typical for a first time, that we’re having the same kinds of issues that other people are having. It was also nice to actually have a conversation with other dads who have children in similar straits, without having to worry about censoring ourselves as to not upset other parents with how ‘well’ our kids are doing…
And admittedly, I do worry, because on listening to some of the stories, the Monster is doing better (relatively) than some. I suppose it’s quite a bit like when our friends try to hold back a bit on how well their children are doing, so as not to upset us.
But it was a good experience. I’ll definitely be going back next month.