by Mollie Rushmeyer
A sense of belonging and having confidantes in the sometimes turbulent waters of parenthood is important for many moms and dads. That’s why Lisa Wolf of St. Joseph decided to create her own parent group, St. Joseph Parish Family Fun, when she moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin last year.
“I was involved in a parent co-op and moms’ groups in Wisconsin, but I didn’t have that here,” Wolf said.
Wolf, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said she searched around St. Joseph, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. She noticed lots of great work being done with other stages of life, such as seniors, and wondered how she could get families with children together.
In her work as a therapist, she said she frequently asked people, “Where is your support?”
“We need that support in our lives in order to be a healthy person,” Wolf said.
And now that she stays home with her five children — ages 2 months, 2, 5, 7 and 9 — she said she felt she needed support and adult conversation more than ever. She also wanted to provide that to other parents. So she created St. Joseph Parish Family Fun which meets every other Friday for parents and caregivers of young children. Though the group has met at St. Joseph Parish Heritage Hall, during warmer months, it’s not affiliated or sponsored by the church.
The benefits of her group, currently meeting in her home, are its relaxed environment, such as getting together for coffee with friends, with no fees or commitment. Though there are planned topics Wolf presents to the group, it’s very much a group-led discussion, she said. So far they’ve discussed things such as how to communicate with in-laws, moms’ birth stories, finances as well as a variety of parenting topics.
“I enjoy talking about parenting, listening to others, building community and partaking in life’s adventures with those around me,” Wolf said.
She said she recognizes how much support she needs to be a strong and healthy parent, and wanted others to feel like they had a place they could go to form a circle of support while having fun together.
She does want people to be aware her faith is a part of why she started this group, and religion may come up as it pertains to parenting or life in general.
“I also believe parenting can be enhanced by one’s beliefs, so integrating the idea this community is open to prayer, or discussing religion around parenting is also important,” she said. “We do not exclude people based on religion, but people should know a discussion around religion may take place.”
She said one of the most helpful tools for all of the two to five families usually in attendance has been learning parenting styles and techniques simply by watching each other. This has lent itself to a camaraderie among members and, in this safe environment of nonjudgment, helped those struggling with certain parenting areas to come together to find positive solutions.
“We model parenting to each other,” Wolf said. “In a group setting, we can feel safe to suggest parenting tips or work together to figure something out.”
Over time, she has seen the trust naturally build between people when they know each other, know their good intentions and encourage one another to be the best parents possible.
Her goals are to grow the group but let it evolve in the manner the members want it to. Ultimately, she said, she would love to get across that everyone’s welcome, any caregivers of young children.
“If they’re worried about coming, it feels intimidating and a conversation would help, call me,” she said.
The next meetings are scheduled for Feb. 16, March 2 and March 23 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Wolf’s house where she assures she has toys for all ages and coffee for the adults.
For further information, people can call Wolf at 608-345-1938 or visit their Facebook page under St. Joseph Parish Family Fun.