Family Whispering Groups
An Evolving Guide
“Familying” is an everyday, ongoing and, often, unconscious process. Family Whispering is a map to the territory. But you have to find your own path and adapt the ideas to your family. Reading the book, especially if you keep a Family Notebook, is eye-opening and will make you more conscious. Being part of a group makes it not just about you. It allows you to say your concerns out loud, to explore ideas and, through discussion, to peak inside other households. After all, there are many roads to Rome–ways to design a family. It helps to ask others about the route they’re taking.
What is Family Whispering group?
It’s part book-club, part study group, part peer support. It’s comprised of all women, all men– ideally, both. Conceivably, children are invited to some sessions (see below).
How to get started?
You have several options: Email a few people you know who might be interested in joining a FW group–close friends, couples you socialize with, neighbors whose kids play with yours, mothers you know from the gym or the middle school. You also could reach out to people in your community by putting an ad in a local newspaper or online–at a site, like MeetUp.com, where strangers with common interests connect and then migrate off line to attend a “meet up.” Or place an ad in a local paper.
Where to meet?
Rotate monthly at different people’s homes. Request space at a community center, school, house of worship, or any kind of wellness facility that encourages peer support. Meet at the same restaurant.
That’s up to your membership. Some are willing to meet once a month and read a chapter a month, just as a book club does. On the twelfth month, they throw themselves a party for devoting a solid year to “familying.” In the midst of the celebration, someone might even say, “Hey, why does this have to end? Let’s keep meeting!”
Members of other groups might not be willing to commit to more than a session; some groups will fizzle out altogether. Some people might like the idea of reading the book together but don’t want to commit to more than three or four meetings. That’s fine too.
The discussion questions are applicable in any case.
Who runs the meeting?
Tracy, who loved the model of 12-step groups, firmly believed in the wisdom of peer support. Everyone has equal stature. No one is “in charge” or “knows better,” even professionals who work with families–once the door closes behind them, in their own homes they face the same challenges. As we discussed above, though, someone (or two) has to get the ball rolling.
But then it becomes a group responsibility. Just as Family Whispering suggests rotating roles to run the family nit, a FW group should be cared by everyone.