Parent forums - what, why and how?
Source: Aussie Deaf Kids
Aussie Deaf Kids has two parent forums - online support groups for parents of deaf children. The forums are for members only and provide a friendly and supportive environment for parents to discuss issues, ideas and concerns about raising a deaf child.
There are a number of formats for online support groups such as chat rooms and bulletin boards. Although messages can be viewed by other members online, we find our members prefer receiving the messages via email.
“I find the online group extremely helpful. I don’t feel so alone when dealing with the various issues that come up when you have a child with a hearing loss. I also enjoy being able to pass on advice and ideas to other parents who are new on the journey and sharing my knowledge to help make their journey easier."
What is the best way to benefit from joining an online support group?Parents who are willing to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences tend to receive more benefits from the groups. Aussie Deaf Kids online groups are a supportive environment. There is always an empathic listener or someone with some good advice. Asking questions, sharing your ideas and suggestions and taking an active part in the discussions will assist you and other parents with a deaf child. Every parent has a valuable contribution to make to the group.
Feeling part of the group can be difficult for new parents, particularly those who have not participated in an online group before. Many new members like to “lurk” in the beginning. They read all the messages but they don’t post anything. This is a good way of finding out a bit more about the group and its members and how the group works. Lurking has its advantages. You have access to the expertise and experiences of other parents while remaining anonymous and private. This is a definite appeal of online groups for some members. But if all parents were lurkers, we would have no group!
A successful group needs many active participants. We encourage you to be an active participant so we can all learn from each other’s experiences.
Email message can be difficult to interpret. We have none of those subtle cues from voice tone and body language that may assist us to better understand the meaning of the message. Dr John Suler has some sound advice on email communication including his “24-Hours Rule” for those messages that annoy or irritate us. “I compose a reply without sending it (or write nothing), wait 24 hours, then go back to reread the other person's message and my unsent reply. Very often, I interpret the other person's message differently - usually less emotionally - the second time around. Very often, the reply I do send off is very different - usually much more rational and mature - than the one I would have sent the day before. The 24-Hours Rule has saved me from unnecessary misunderstandings and arguments.” (http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/emailrel.htm) We ask that you be respectful of the choices families have made but this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some robust debate and sharing of ideas.
Although we attempt to ensure that members are parents of deaf children, the nature of the Internet means that we cannot guarantee that people are who they say they are. This anonymity of other members and not knowing who exactly is reading your messages is a problem for some parents.
Many issues are discussed and questions asked repeatedly. Fortunately, one of the things parents like about online groups is being able to ‘give back’. Older group members are usually tolerant of the need for new members to ask the same questions they did when they joined the group.
The most common complaint about the groups is the volume of emails. The solution to this is either to log in to the Yahoo site and read the messages online when you have the time or receive all new messages in a Daily Digest. You can decide on the settings that are best for you and change them at any time.
Online support groups are not for everyone. If you find the group is not meeting your needs then you can unsubscribe from the group by going to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that you send us a brief email letting us know why you have unsubscribed. This helps us to improve how the groups run for other families. And, of course, you are welcome to join again at another stage.
The groups are there to provide information and support to families with a deaf child. We welcome feedback and ideas on how we can better meet the needs of parents in this online environment.
Our groups are for parents of deaf children only. However, we are aware that there are many parents of deaf children who are professionals working in the area of deafness and they have the same need for support that only another parent can provide. We, therefore, request that parents of deaf children working in the deafness area disclose their interest and adhere to their professional standards for confidentiality.
The group is not intended to replace good professional advice. However, by bringing your concerns and ideas to the group, you will receive benefit from the feedback and experiences of other parents who have “been there, done that”. Different views and ideas are encouraged but the moderators request that the choices made by other parents are respected and tolerated.
You can contact a moderator by email at email@example.com
page reviewed: 8.7.2009
Disclaimer: This website is for general information only and is not intended as a substitute for independent professional advice.