One of the things that always puzzles me about the Family Readiness Group is how well-meaning people get a reputation for being stuck up or cliquish or “wearing their husband’s rank.”
I know a lot of FRG leaders.a I know plenty of ombudsmen, Key Volunteers, and Family Readiness Officers. Although there are a few nutterbutters in that bunch, the majority of these people take these jobs because they genuinely want to help.
So why do FRGs get a bad rap?
I’m thinking that one reason may be because the kind of person we want to run these organizations—the kind that is capable of setting up meetings and following rules and getting the approval of the command and organizing funds so that no one gets arrested—is not necessarily the kind of person who is the Queen of Understanding All Thy Feelings.
Somehow we expect the organizers of groups to also be outgoing, babyloving, mindreading, anxiety soothers with sparkle fingers. That’s a lot for any one person to be.
But newbies don’t know this. Or maybe I am the only one who doesn’t know this--which is totally disappointing.
Cuz when I go to these command events I want to be welcomed like I’m in a Hallmark commercial on the Lifetime channel.
That never, never happens—no matter what rank my husband holds.
So I am thinking that if we want command events to go well, maybe we need to do four freaky things to improve the FRG.
Accept every invitation. Getting out and about with other people is good for us. We know that. There is a ton of research that backs that up.
That doesn’t mean we necessarily want to do that. And we rarely want to be the person doing the calling. So I was interested to see in a blog about depression, a therapist asks her client simply to accept every invitation. You don’t have to stay long at a place. Just show up. Your presence increases the chances of my meeting someone I will like—you.
Post an extrovert at the door. At our Spouse X Live events, we always post a team at the door to greet every participant. I love this. For one, I wanna lay eyes on everyone. I’m a huge extrovert and that is fun for me.
For two, this sends a message: there are no cliques here. We expect you to talk to each other. We are really glad you came
Tag newcomers. As a newcomer to a group, you naturally think every single person in attendance is an established member of the group. From the outside, it looks like they all know each other and like each other and there is no room for you.
This isn’t true. At any command event there are lots of newcomers. Group leaders should tag these people at the door with a nametag and a little gold star maybe. While there are plenty of exclusive people in the world, in our community you can always count on a lot of kind people to also attend events. Help them out.
Rejoice in introverts. The thought of being tagged as a newcomer will probably convince every introvert associated with the command to cringe. It is estimated that up to one third of Americans are introverts.
This doesn’t necessarily mean shy. Mostly it means that being with a lot of people can be really draining for them. It means they would rather talk to people one on one—a quality that can make for a really good ombudsman.
That’s why I want you to see that ombudsman/FRO/Key Volunteer/FRG leader/command spouse surrounded by their friends as an introvert—not as someone with a problem with stuckupitude.
Resolve not to take introversion as a personal affront. Because we really do need each other in SpouseWorld. I met my best friends at command events. I met the people who traded babysitting with me. I met people who helped me find contacts to get jobs. I met people who told such wild, funny, crazy stories that I still think of them all the time.
FRG meetings and events can make people feel more lonely than ever—that is their nature. Or we can tweak them so people feel a little less alone in the world.
What would you do to change YOUR FRG?