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Keeping Mothers Interested

Maggie Griffin
Tyler TX USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 p. 108.

Our Group has extra meetings aimed at encouraging continued involvement in LLL. We don’t call them "Interested Mothers Meetings" for several reasons. We invite women who feel they aren’t interested in leadership, but we believe that if they learned more, they might be potential Leader Applicants. We also want to include interested mothers who may not be prospective Leader Applicants, but could help the Group in other ways.

About twice a year we hold a meeting just for women who want to learn more about LLL. Those meetings show how we each get something out of LLL right from the start. We ask the mothers an icebreaker question, "Why did you come to your second LLL meeting?" The vast majority of mothers answer that it wasn’t for breastfeeding help, but for mothering support. We want to show that LLL offers parenting support as well as breastfeeding information. Leaders agree with and provide an example in action of LLL’s breastfeeding and parenting philosophy.

During the meeting, discussion illustrates how mothers can choose to take on more responsibilities as their involvement in LLL increases. A mother can become an LLL member; take on a Group job; become an Applicant and Leader; work on the Area Council; or work at the Divisional, Affiliate, or International level. All along the way there are resources available to us: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, New Beginnings, Leader’s Handbook, Breastfeeding Answer Book, Leaven, and Area Leader Letters (ALLs).

We also discuss how mothers can become more involved in the Group: Group jobs (Treasurer, Librarian, Greeter), helping new mothers feel welcome, and sharing positive experiences. We talk about touchy situations at meetings and how the mothers can help us get through them with their thoughtful responses. This shows our more experienced mothers how valuable they are and encourages those mothers who have been to more than one series of meetings to continue coming, and to give to the newer members.

We emphasize that this is a continuum, and women can choose the level where they are comfortable. Then we discuss how leadership is only one of many ways women can help a Group thrive. Not all women need to be Leaders to stay involved. A Group needs many returning, core mothers to support and keep the discussions positive. A Leader’s participation at a Group meeting may not be as open as the mother’s who is not a Leader because a mother may appropriately share more personal experience. Healthy LLL Groups need everyone, and the varied contributions are welcomed! We emphasize that experienced mothers are essential to balancing the Leaders and new mothers who attend a meeting.

Then we discuss the concepts. We give a brief summary of what is required for leadership, how to know if you fit the prerequisites, and what to expect during the application period. We explain that all women are welcome at our meetings and are a valuable part of our Group, whether they live these beliefs or not. Their support and encouragement can help mothers breastfeed. Leadership has specific requirements though, just as a paying job does.

We also mention that we accredit Leaders to help all mothers. We don’t accredit a mother of twins to only help other twin mothers nor an employed mother to only help other employed mothers. We accredit women who have experienced the normal course of breastfeeding.

Our Group holds these meetings about twice a year. We show women how they can still contribute to LLL without becoming a Leader, and we find some great Leader Applicants, as well. They’re very useful meetings.

Interested Mothers Meetings

Lisa Cortez Barry
Gardena CA USA

To attract new Leader Applicants and get to know new members, our Group has a park day every week. It is purposely informal, but we talk and share our experiences. You can’t recommend a member if you don’t know her, right? We also invite members who have been to a few meetings to attend our Chapter Meetings. We hold these every other month, and it gives mothers an idea of what else is involved in leadership and LLL. We offer enrichment topics and let members know about ways they can get more involved in LLL.

We also occasionally offer an interested mothers meeting—Mothers Interested in La Leche League Knowledge—MILLLK Meetings. This helps members get more information on LLL (structure and purpose), and our philosophy is discussed in depth.

After the MILLLK Meetings, we have a Leader Applicant Series, usually handled by several Leaders. We go through the Breastfeeding Resource Guide and the Leader’s Handbook (1998) checklist on pages 243-4. This has taken about nine months in the past, and either the Leader Applicants complete it and become Leaders or they decide that leadership is not for them. It has really worked well for us because we get to know the Leader Applicants well. The Leader Applicants also have an assortment of mentors to turn to and experiences to learn from.

Editor’s note: Policies and procedures may vary regarding Chapter Meetings. Please check with your support person.

Lisa Cortez Barry has been a La Leche League Leader for six years with the Greater Long Beach Chapter and Greater Torrance Group and lives in Gardena, California, USA with husband, Glenn, and their three children: Kyle, 8; Cheyenne, 6; and Leila, 2.

Material for this article was originally posted to The Leader Connection (TLC), an email list for Leaders. Maggie Heeger Griffin was an LLL Leader for 14 years and has since retired. She has two children, Joseph, 20, and Elizabeth, 18. She led Groups in Texas, New York, Florida, and Alabama, USA and is a former Leaven Contributing Editor, ACLA, and CLA for AL/MS/LA. Brandel Falk is the Contributing Editor for "Helping Mothers." Send ideas to Brandel at Pal-Yam 34, Tsameret Ha-Bira, Jerusalem, ISRAEL or ImaBDF at (email).

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