Rainbows support group becomes an institution at Pasadena school Club helps serve pupils from single-parent homes

November 08, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

For the first three years of its existence, one student club at St. Jane Frances Roman Catholic School did not appear in the yearbook.

Guidance counselor Martha Monaghan thought members of Rainbows For All God's Children would not want their classmates to know they were part of a support group for students living in single-parent households or with a stepparent.

But that changed two years ago when the students at the Pasadena school began to ask why they weren't included with the other clubs.

"I should not have been surprised, but I was," Monaghan recalled. "Our club is different from the science club and the glee club, but those children strongly identified with our club."

Yesterday marked the start of the sixth year at the school for Rainbows For All God's Children, a group for children in grades two through eight.

Rainbows is an international program that offers students an opportunity to talk to classmates who are also trying to deal with the death of a parent, a divorce, or the presence of a stepparent.

"It's peer support," Monaghan said. "It's a sense of 'Yeah, I had that happen to me, and this is what I did.' They can help each other out."

That bond is what inspired Matt, 11, to attend his first meeting. The sixth-grader, whose parents are contemplating divorce, said it is difficult talking to his friends whose parents are not separated.

"They usually don't bother listening to you," Matt said. "I just know that I can talk about it here."

Jonathan and Joseph, twin 11-year-olds in sixth grade, said they enjoyed the support so much that they returned to the group for a second year.

"I found out that it helps me because it doesn't put pressure on me, and I get to say what's on my mind," said Joseph, whose parents are divorced.

Monaghan said one of the primary goals of the group is to relieve students of the guilt they feel for the loss of a parent.

"So often, kids feel that when their parents argue, it's their fault," she said. "They take it on as, 'If I had not been bad, Mom and Dad would not have fought.' We don't want them to feel like that."

Jeremy, 10, said he joined because he didn't want to take the blame for his parents' divorce.

"I don't feel like taking the guilt anymore," said the bespectacled fifth-grader. "[The group] gives you a special feeling so that you don't have to feel sorry for yourself."

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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