Yup, I typed it as the subject for this entry...
I can hear the groans and moans already...I can hear the exclamations of "RUN! As fast as you can!"
I can hear the Soldiers telling their wives to stay far, far away from the gossiping, catty women that make up FRG's.
Oh yes, I could go on and on about all the negativity that often goes along with those three simple words "Family Readiness Group".
In fact, I just had a twitter conversation about this very topic this morning and heard these very things.
That conversation leads me to writing this very entry.
Let me be the first to tell you that I have had some pretty horrible experiences when it comes to FRGs. Oh, I have experienced the drama first hand and have fell victim to gossip and backstabbing alike. So why do I go back time and time again? Because I have also had GREAT FRG experiences. I have met some pretty amazing people through my FRG's, I've also met some pretty horrible people, but don't we all?
I do believe that FRG's are an effective tool for military families and when used properly (and I emphasize PROPERLY) they can be so good for the command teams and families. Sadly, there are times when the wrong people are in charge. FRG leaders are volunteers, no one gets paid and the demands are often high and sometimes you wonder why you do it. But it can be sooooooooo rewarding!
My main issue with the conversation this morning is the need for people to throw out the negative right away. We always hear the bad and rarely hear the good and really there are good experiences out there. When you choose to only be negative, then you are part of the problem. Yup, I said, you are part of the problem. I truly believe that you should be a part of the solution and not the problem. Does this mean I think you should join in on the cattiness and drama? Nope, in fact I run away from that crap as fast as I can.
I have been an part of FRG's for a while now, don't let me fool you into thinking they were without their problems. I mean I had a wife who made up a story about being pregnant with twins hoping it would keep her husband from being deployed and then when he did she "miscarried" and still holds onto that to this very day even though her husband confessed and was punished over there. Yup, I've dealt with the crazies and that's just ONE example.
But I don't think it's fair to bludgeon new spouses or less experienced spouses or any spouse for that matter with our negative experiences when the possibility for a good one is always available. And that's where my frustration comes in. I feel that as "seasoned" spouses we have a responsibility to help those coming in after us. I constantly run into people who are not in the "know" because of what one person said to them. They miss out on information and opportunities of networking, networking that is important within the military community, especially when we are separated as often as we are from our spouses. It's easier to go through all the things we go through when you're going through it with other people who understand.
No, I don't believe that if you join your FRG you will instantly have 100 BFF's. But you may find you relate to someone and if not, at least you are getting information and you're not left wondering what is going on.
I'm not a particularly social person, so the social aspect of FRG's does not appeal to me, but I do like to be in the know. At one time I had a major personality conflict with our Squadron commander's wife. She thought we all needed to be best friends, I did not agree. I could tolerate all the people I needed to in order to take care of what needed to be done. You can separate the informative aspect of FRG's from the social aspects of them. And it's okay not to like everyone.
The last point I'll make is that IF you have had a negative experience, remember that you won't be stuck with the same people forever. That's the greatest thing about being in the Army, the constant change. You can try again. I also want to say let your voice be heard. Be part of the solution and not the problem. If things are not going the way you and others think they should be going, then speak up. If they aren't resolved, then I don't blame you for stepping back and moving on. But when you move or new people come in, try again. I do understand that sometimes we get hurt by others actions and it's hard to move past that and put ourselves in a position to be hurt, I've been there.
I truly believe that every is entitled to a positive FRG experience. I also believe every is entitled to experience FRG's for themselves and not based on another's bad experience. Ultimately, it comes down to deciding for ourselves what is best for us and our families.
There's a saying out there..."keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer". For some of the seasoned wives out there, they'll understand what that means.