Before You Join a Single Parent Support Group

Tips for Joining a Single Parent Support Group

Women at a single parent support group meeting
Get to know your options before choosing a single parent support group. Photo © Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Thinking about joining a single parent support group? They can be a terrific source of support and encouragement, and most single parent support groups offer a wide range of high-quality programs for single moms and dads. However, before you commit to a meeting regularly, make sure the group is a good fit for your needs. Consider what you're hoping to get out of the meetings, as well as whether you're wiling to to personally take on some of the responsibilities that may come with keeping the group going.

To evaluate your options, use this checklist of questions to help you choose a single parent support group.

6 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Single Parent Support Group

  1. Does this particular single parent support group have a specific focus? For example, is it limited to parents raising school-age children, or parents who have primary custody? Most single parent support groups are open to all solo moms and dads, but you'll want to find out if there are any limitations. Similarly, you'll want to know about any special interests the group is focused on before you determine if it’s the best fit for you and your family. For instance, if your primary need is emotional support, you might benefit most from a group that puts you in touch with a mentor or parent coach. On the other hand, if your primary need is help navigating your financial situation, a group that offers economic workshops and practical assistance may be more appealing to you.
  1. Where and when does the group meet? Most single parent support groups offer a variety of activities at different times throughout a given month. However, some groups may only meet biweekly or monthly. So if you need consistent, ongoing support, you might look for a group that meets weekly or in combination with an online discussion board or Facebook group.
  1. Is childcare provided? Most single parent support groups do provide childcare during their regular meetings. However, you'll want to know whether taking advantage of this feature involves additional costs, or whether you might be required to volunteer in the childcare room occasionally.
  2. What activities are available for my children? Participating in a single parent support group will provide your children an opportunity to associate with peers who are going through similar life challenges. Some support groups even provide group counseling for older children and access to art therapy activities for younger children. Look for activities that meet both the overall interests and the age-levels of your children.
  3. What are the dues (if any)? Most single parent support groups collect dues monthly or yearly, which go toward the cost of programming. If this presents a challenge for you financially, you'll want to ask about potential scholarships. Many single parent support groups also offer additional benefits, such as a magazine subscription to a single parent publication or access to a members-only area of their web site. Knowing what you get for the cost will help you determine whether the fees are worth your investment.
  1. What if I can't find a single parent support group in my area? Let's say you've looked around and just can't find a single parent support group that meets your needs. Should you just give up? No, of course not! Instead, consider forming a single parent group of your own. As a founding member, you'll be able to build a group that meets your needs and includes the types of activities and discussion groups that you're looking for.