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How to facilitate, support and work with young parents in a group environment.

Working with young parents

Young parents know how they like to be treated, what works in teen group situations, and how we can best support them.

Much of the information they share is relevant for any group, whatever age. However, this is a good reminder to be aware of the particular challenges teen parents face. They are often aware of negative attitudes towards them from the wider society, and it’s very important to take extra care and be mindful not to reinforce negative stereotypes.

How the group runs

Pay attention to all aspects of the course, not just the content. The success of a programme or group depends on the quality of the group members’ relationships with each other and the facilitator.


Begin the session with an appropriate welcome and settling in time — for example, karakia, mihi, waiata, gathering of thoughts, and simple hellos. This is an opportunity for people to share what’s going on for them, if they wish.

Starting each session

This will depend on you and the kawa of your organisation. It’s customary to bring a group together at the beginning of each session, whether it be with a song, a poem, a thought for the day or an inspirational reading. For some it will be natural to begin the session with a karakia.

You may invite participants to decide, or even to lead, this process.

Whakawhanaungatanga – introductions

How you do this will depend on what’s customary for you and for your organisation. It’s an important aspect of starting to build relationships, for each person to have the opportunity to introduce themselves as they wish.

Kawa – agreement about how things will be

It’s important to talk about what the participants’ expectations of each other and the facilitator are, and what the facilitator expects of the individuals in the group. You will need to come to an agreement about this.

It’s a good idea to write the points on a flip chart and have them on the wall during all of the sessions, so you can refer to them as needed. They are like your ‘rules’. Usually groups and facilitators like to include aspects like confidentiality, talking one at a time, treating each other respectfully and so on.

Closing each session

How we close the group session is also important.

Either ask participants to reflect on what’s been covered in the session, or the facilitator can summarise what’s been covered. Remember to leave time for this at the end of each session.


It’s a useful learning tool to ask the group to reflect during the coming week on what you’ve covered in the session. They might observe something relevant either in their own family, or with others they come into contact with. They might see something on TV or read an article in a magazine or online.

Just ask them to pay attention to whatever topic you’ve been discussing and learning about. You can then ask for feedback at the next session. Share observations and reflections as appropriate.

Close the session in whatever way your kawa requires – a karakia, poem, reading or blessing.