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Connected Families is Building Community in SMALL GROUPS

building community in small groups

Thanks to your support and engagement, Connected Families has become more than a library of programs and resources for parents. We are a community. AND we are transforming communities.  

Today we are exploring how Connected Families is building community in small groups. You’ll be introduced to Becky Wood (from Utah) and Alan and Corrie Thetford (from Texas) who are leading small groups in a variety of ways. We hope you enjoy their stories and are inspired to join or lead a small group of your own!

Meet Becky Wood, building community in small groups through church

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How did you first hear about Connected Families and our resources?

I heard about CF on a podcast titled, “A New Goal for Discipline”,  on Focus on the Family in 2017. I stopped the podcast several times to write down the Framework. I looked it up on the internet and emailed Chad to ask how I could do what you all do. He said there was no formal training in place, but to just get the books and take the courses. I did Sibling Conflict and Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart online courses in 2017, and took others as they became available. Chad contacted me in 2019 to tell me Connected Families was going to start training parent coaches. He asked if I was still interested in being a parent coach and I became part of the first class of parent coaches trained by Connected Families!

What made you want to share the Connected Families Framework for parenting with others?

I have a background in Child Development/Special Education and worked with other people’s kids for 10 years before becoming a mom. As a teacher, I’ve always felt passionate about helping parents enjoy their kids. I was drawn to the Connected Families Framework because it put into words what I’d believed all along about kids. I was working hard to be a trustworthy and safe adult. Where I fell short was ‘telling’ instead of ‘coaching’ especially as my kids got older. 

Can you tell us about some of the many small groups you have led with our resources?

Our church decided to encourage small groups on Zoom in the Fall of 2020. I started offering Grace & Truth for Moms on Zoom through my local MOPS program that fall and since then have led a total of 69 moms (and 4 dads) through 8 small groups including: 

What has been the community impact of so many parents participating in small groups?

What started with a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group has now spread to moms in a public school classroom, their neighbors, friends, moms at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship, which encompasses many churches), and MOMSNext (moms whose kids are older but still want to meet). Because it’s been an answer to prayer for me and the participants, we have all been sharing it with friends. It’s truly been a grassroots and word of mouth movement which has been amazing.

The best thing I’ve learned in these courses so far is not to generalize. My kids and I have moments that aren’t the best, but overall we are doing great and I’m proud of us. I’m digging into gratitude and this is what I’m thankful for tonight. – Shannon, mom of three young boys

Meet Corrie and Alan Thetford, building community in small groups outside church

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How did you hear about Connected Families?

We first heard about Connected Families through Heather MacFadyen’s “Don’t Mom Alone” podcast. We heard Jim and Lynne talk about their kids and early parenting experiences and felt an instant connection. This podcast gave us a greater understanding of what it meant to have sensitive and intense kids. When we started applying the Connected Families Framework for parenting, we saw outbursts decrease and connection increase. We learned to parent with a goal to build wisdom instead of managing behavior.

How has Connected Families impacted your family specifically?

The Connected Families Framework has helped give us a biblical approach for every parenting situation, and one area specifically that has been impacted is sibling conflict. As we have learned to approach their outbursts with understanding and being “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” (James 1:19) it has modeled for them that being calm is not a weakness but a strength. Our kids used to have frequent, intense, aggressive conflict and we knew things had to change.

We began working on specific things in our family:

  • beliefs that drove our anger 
  • understanding what might be going on in us to trigger conflicts 
  • doing many do-overs (starting with ourselves as parents!) 
  • building reconciliation skills by doing role-plays during family meeting
  • helping our kids repair their relationship with tangible ways to make it right

Now, we have siblings who (mostly) love to be together and know how to make it right when they have conflict. 

What made you want to share the Connected Families Framework for parenting with others?

In our parenting, we went from being exasperated to finding joy again, in the blessing of parenting our kids. Because of this we wanted to pass on to others what we have learned. Whether parents feel stressed out in their parenting or not, we think anyone can find help from the Connected Families Framework. Impacting families to parent biblically impacts generations to come for God’s kingdom. It is a great privilege to share about Connected Families through small groups, as certified parent coaches, and our podcast.

Can you tell us about some of the many small groups you have led with our resources?

We gathered a handful of couples on our own (not officially through church). We led the Discipline That Connects online course three semesters in a row and are finishing the Grace and Truth online course now. Next semester we are leading the Sibling Conflict online course. It has almost turned into a support group! The same couples keep repeating the course and we have grown close because all of us have at least one highly sensitive and intense kiddo. 

The couples in this small group hire sitters and find times when we can all meet. We share tea and dessert and talk about our parenting wins. We spend some time in prayer, and do a role play at the end. Our role plays consist of a common parenting challenge and going through the Connected Families Framework when addressing that challenge. We each take turns being the kid and the parent, so it’s not just the two of us always being the parent! We contact each other throughout the week and encourage each other with Connected Families articles, remind each other of the truth we have been learning, and offer support and prayer. We have truly built community in small groups among our friends!

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When I think of my Connected Families small group I can’t help but smile. The people in my group are a safe place for me to work out what’s going on in me. I have discovered that parenting in a community helps me to persevere on the hard days. Knowing I have accountability with a godly group of people, who are on the same parenting journey as me, is a comfort.  In a world full of parenting books and “experts” what better way to learn to parent than to follow the example of God himself? The Framework that Connected Families uses is exactly how the Lord parents His children. I want to follow God as THE example parent, not just any parent. Connected Families, and my small group, help to do just that. 

–Rachel, Small Group Participant

When Connected Families started in 2002, our primary focus was partnering with churches. Now we are excited to be able to partner with organizations from a variety of backgrounds! Whether you think Connected Families would be a good fit for your church, school, non-profit, podcast, blog, international ministry, business, or moms group, our resources are available to inspire and equip those in your community. We’d love to collaborate with you! Let’s get the conversation started.

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