St. Francis Counseling Service is offering a new, eight-week virtual support group for grandparents starting July 27. The program is offered for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Photo from Freepik.com
St. Francis Counseling Service is offering a new, eight-week virtual support group for grandparents starting July 27. The program is offered for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Photo from Freepik.com
Grandparents living in Ocean County in need of support and interaction with others might consider joining the newly formed virtual support group created just for them.

Hosted by St. Francis Counseling Service in Brant Beach, the eight-week program will consist of weekly virtual Zoom meetings beginning July 27. Sessions will meet each Monday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Facilitator Shannon Mahon said the support group was identified as a need within the community to provide a safe space for grandparents who are in the parenting role of raising their grandchildren. Reasons they might join the group range from feeling overwhelmed; struggling with feeling disconnected from their grandchild, and seeking skills for strengthening relationships and communication. In addition, the grandparents may feel isolated especially if their friends and peers are not in similar situations.

Among the various circumstances leading grandparents to seek support, Mahon noted, might include coping with unexpected financial matters or dealing with their grandchildren’s behavioral issues or academic concerns regarding their education. Some grandparents may also be grieving the loss of their own child, while at the same time, trying to help their grandchild deal with the loss of a parent.

Discussion topics will focus on relationships; communication styles; personal well-being; financial responsibilities; parenting styles; coping skills, and positive forms of self-care. Time will also be allotted to COVID-19 and how the pandemic may impact parenting roles.

“While we have identified these topics for weekly discussions, we also realize this course of action could fluctuate depending on the needs identified by each group member,” said Mahon, noting that both she and co-facilitator Karen Davis are interns in St. Francis Counseling Service; hold bachelor’s degrees in psychology from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and are currently pursuing master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling, also at Georgian Court.

Mahon said the support group is confidential and the hope is that members will experience a sense of safety while participating.

 “We want those grandparents who are struggling to know they are not alone and that others have similar lived experiences. We are welcoming any grandparent in Ocean County to join us,” Mahon said.

There is no fee to participate in the support group, but registration is required by July 24. To register, call 609-494-1554. For more information, email shannon.stfrancislbi@yahoo.net or kdavis@stfrancislbi.org.