9 FAQ's for Parents About Banana Splits
1. My child is doing well--I don't think s/he needs Banana Splits. Why should I consider letting my child join?
There is no assumption that children "need" Banana Splits to lead happy and productive lives. Rather, the group allows children with common experiences to know and learn from one another, and to support each other if a challenging situation arises. Banana Splits is a positive, enjoyable, club-like experience, as the name suggests. In schools that provide Banana Splits, most of the eligible children opt to come.
Many single/widowed/separated/remarried parents seek out others with like experiences, for tips on handling issues or just for the comfort of not feeling alone in their situation. Children may not be able to find and share with others, unless we provide the opportunity.
2. I'd like my child to join Banana Splits but s/he won't--what should I do?
Let your child join when ready. Banana Splits is voluntary, on the part of both children and parents, so that members will be comfortable. There is nothing to be gained by forcing the issue. Very often, children do opt to join later. Sometimes a child with a friend in the program will one day feel like accompanying that friend.
3. I would prefer that my children talk to me about what is on their minds.
One purpose of Banana Splits is to strengthen connections between children and family. Children are always encouraged to discuss with parents the issues they raise. If a child is not sure how best to bring up a topic at home, group leaders may offer to contact the parent, in order to get the discussion started. Parents can also contact group leaders.
Research has shown that in general, child participants in support groups are better able to express their thoughts and feelings at home, and that they tend to understand their family situation better.
4. I am concerned about confidentiality.
Children in Banana Splits are explicitly taught the importance of telling only their own story, both in and out of the group--that they are not to repeat someone else's words when they leave, nor to tell the Banana Splits group about someone else's situation. They are taught that it is each child's and family's decision whether or not to tell their story. The children are as good at this as a support group of adults, which is to say very good but not fail-safe.
5. My child is in psychotherapy--won't Banana Splits conflict with the therapy?
On the contrary, many therapists report the value of Banana Splits in jump starting questions and discussions at therapy sessions.
6. Won't my child be stigmatized by other children if s/he attends?
Banana Splits groups are not initiated in a school until a climate of support has been established among the adults, so that the program is presented positively to the students. Other kids tend to be respectful. Often children from two-parent families express the wish that they could come!
7. I don't want my child to miss class time in order to attend.
Banana Splits groups are held during nonacademic periods such as lunch, recess, or activity periods. Each time, the child can opt to attend Banana Splits or go to those other activities instead.
8. I know it is generally believed that children do better if they can see both parents, but that's not possible in our situation. What will you be telling the children about such things?
There is no fixed agenda in Banana Splits. The point is to help children get clarification and comfort and to figure out ways to cope best with their own situation. Children talk about their own feelings, perceptions, and wishes. If children express confusion about why things are the way they are, leaders suggest they ask at home--they do not explain children's situations to them as they do not presume to know.
9. I can't get my child's school to start a Banana Splits program. What do you suggest?
Meet with the administration and/or support staff. Listen to their concerns respectfully and distribute copies of the FAQ's on this web site for parents and administrators. Suggest a pilot program to be evaluated after the first year. If there are several parents interested in the program, perhaps a few of you can attend this meeting, which demonstrates that there is already a constituency for a startup group.