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Keeping the Discussion on Target

Denise Boyle
from LEAVEN, Vol. 29 No. 2, March-April 1993, p.22

It never ceases to amaze me that we use the same set of Series Meeting outlines month after month, yet we never hold the same meeting twice. The dynamics of the Group vary so much from meeting to meeting even though the same set of people are present. The discussion can cover the widest range of thoughts or feelings.

A discussion format allows for this built-in variety and usually works well. There are times when we can all move a bit far afield, however, and get ourselves entangled in a set of causes or issues that aren't really within the sphere of La Leche League.

On the occasion when the conversation goes far astray, we owe it to the mothers present to clarify just where LLL stands on the issue. If LLL does not have a position on the topic, we can say that "La Leche League is interested in mothering through breastfeeding, and to my knowledge has not issued a policy statement about ________."

Most Leaders are well informed in the areas of baby/child care, pregnancy, childbirth, and nutrition so it's easy for us as mothers to become emotionally involved if the discussion turns to a topic about which we feel strongly. If we do get carried away we might need to say, "I have some strong personal feelings about this issue, but I need to clarify that LLL has not taken a stand on this and believes it is a choice that should be made by each family." You might also find it helpful to keep a copy handy of No. 5, LLL's Purpose and Philosophy; it's so easy to turn to it and read the simple yet thoughtful statements that so well describe our philosophy.

It needn't be awkward to bring the discussion back to the outline. We are used to doing that anyway: clarifying a point, rewording a question, or guiding a talkative mother. HRE can help us do these things gently, without coming across as an authority figure.

By guiding and skillfully leading the discussion, we can explore many ideas. We have a responsibility to LLL to present its philosophy accurately. Reviewing the concepts and THE NEW LEADER'S HANDBOOK before each meeting can help us distinguish our personal feelings from what we say as representatives of LLL. It's important to remember where LLL stops and "I" start. Is this the first time you heard all of this? Of course not. There are guidelines throughout THE NEW LEADER'S HANDBOOK. It's always a good idea for every Leader, whether new or experienced, to go back to the basics.

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