Are you currently facilitating a women’s group at church or organization? Perhaps some of them are moms. When you’re a small group facilitator, you need to know their demographics and prepare for every discussion. This is also for you if you have another mom friend that you talk to even in informal setting.
As a pastor’s wife and teacher, I’ve had attended and led several discussion groups to date. But I’ve only been a mom for 4 years and there’s much I learned when talking with other moms and facilitating discussions with them. Some I learned the hard way.
It’s important to be mindful of potential triggers or sensitive topics that may arise during the conversation. Some possible scenarios to be aware of include postpartum depression, miscarriage/loss, difficulties with breastfeeding, and balancing work and family life.
Here I’ll be sharing some tips and reminder that I hope you’ll find useful as well:
Guidelines in Talking to other moms
Establish trust and confidentiality between you and the individual/s.
- Assure the individual/group that their personal information will be kept confidential and not shared with others without their consent.
- If in a group setting, ask everyone to respect the ‘rule’ of keeping things just between yourselves.
Listen actively, allowing the individual to express themselves freely without interruption.
- For example, nodding or saying “I understand” to show that you are listening.
- Take mental notes or focus on summarizing what each person shared (which you don’t necessarily have to relay). I find this personally helpful in understanding the person better.
Avoid judgment or criticism towards the individual.
- For example, refrain from saying “That’s not right” or “You shouldn’t feel that way”.
- There are things that you might disagree on. You should just take in these things as new information, but not something that personally attacks you. Respond respectfully.
Provide emotional support and validation.
- For example, saying “I’m sorry you’re going through this” or “That sounds really difficult” can be helpful in providing the individual with a sense of comfort and acknowledgement that their emotions are valid.
- Additionally, offering a compassionate and non-judgmental listening ear can help them feel heard and understood.
Encourage the individual to take ownership of their feelings and decisions.
- For example, saying “What do you think you should do?” or “How do you feel about that?” can help the individual to feel empowered and supported in their decision-making process.
Be mindful of cultural differences and values.
- Be aware of different customs or beliefs that may affect how the individual communicates or views certain situations can help to ensure that their experiences are respected and acknowledged.
- Educate yourself to understand different cultural practices and beliefs can create a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Recognize and respect boundaries set by the individual.
- For example, if the individual does not want to talk about a certain topic, do not push them to do so. Instead, allow them to set the pace and direction of the conversation. Additionally, respecting their physical boundaries, such as personal space or touch, is crucial in creating a safe and comfortable environment.
Ask open-ended questions to encourage the individual to explore their thoughts and feelings.
- For example, saying “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What do you think about…?” can help the individual to delve deeper into their emotions and experiences.
- Additionally, using reflective listening techniques, such as summarizing and paraphrasing, can help to clarify their thoughts and feelings.
Maintain a safe and comfortable environment for the individual to share their personal experiences.
- Choose a private and quiet location to have the conversation can make the individual feel more at ease and willing to open up.
- Create a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere, such as through the use of soft lighting or comfortable seating, can help to facilitate a positive conversation.
Provide relevant resources or referrals if needed.
- Suggest a medical professional or support group if the individual needs additional help can be a valuable step in their journey towards healing and growth.
- Provide them with information on, for example, self-care strategies or coping mechanisms which can empower them to take an active role in their healing process.
It is important to prioritize the individual’s needs and preferences throughout the conversation to create a supportive and safe environment.
Okay, so now let’s jump in to the bombs that might go off when stepped on.
Things to Avoid During Conversations with Moms
- Avoid making assumptions or generalizations about motherhood or parenting. For example, avoid saying things like “All moms do this” or “Real moms do that”.
- Refrain from giving unsolicited advice or solutions. Instead, ask the individual if they would like your advice or if they have any specific questions for you.
- Do not minimize or dismiss the individual’s feelings or experiences. For example, avoid saying things like “It’s not that bad” or “Just get over it”.
- Do not compare the individual’s experiences to your own or to others’. Each person’s experience is unique and valid.
- Avoid using negative or judgmental language. For example, avoid saying things like “That’s a bad idea” or “You’re doing it wrong”.
- Do not pry for personal information or details. Let the individual share what they are comfortable sharing at their own pace.
Remember, the goal is to create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their experiences without fear of judgment or criticism.
With these, I hope you are better equipped in holding conversations with other moms and helping them process their situations in life, hopefully with lots of support from their friends.
Read more: The Blessing of Having Christian Mom Friends