The Family Meeting
Parenting is such a personal thing, yet we look to others to help guide us along. There was no manual that came with each child, it was just something we had to figure out and learn to do the best we could. In our home, there are seasons of trial and error. I am not sure about you but since my kids were infants I was always reading about new strategies for the best way to do things, such as: disciplining them, getting them to nap, teaching them obedience, making reward charts, creating chore lists and on and on. I felt like I was always reading about a “better” way to do something. I wanted to make my kids do what I wanted them to do so I could feel like an awesome mom!
As you can imagine most things lasted days to maybe weeks or were a complete flop. But then something dawned on me, “why don’t I ask my kids what they think?” Now mind you, I am NOT that parent that let’s their kids dictate our family life and choices but I thought if maybe they had a voice in creating the charts, lists, expectations and consequences then maybe it would actually stick.
And there it was, the family meeting was created!
Of course, at first they thought they were in trouble and were apprehensive but once they understood what it was they were on board. They actually look forward to “the family meeting” because this is where they get to give their input and opinion. They feel heard and feel as though their thoughts and ideas have value and influence in the family culture and dynamic of our home. There is no real science behind the family meeting, it isn’t complicated and honestly you can make it structured however it is you feel comfortable. However, if you are looking for some guidance I will give you some key points to go by.
Choose a day and time
You want to make a time where all family members are present and when you are not rushing to finish it
I like to make it a weekend night after dinner
Set a rough length of time
You want to set an expectation that this is something to commit a certain amount of time to
We started with 10 minutes because it wasn’t too long of a time to keep our kids attention. Of course it can go longer if there are topics that create more dialogue
Decide on the topic(s)
When you choose one or two topics this allows for a more organized meeting, rather than everyone trying to talk about different topics
At the first one we did, we discussed how we expect the meetings to go and what they are for. After that, they are more of a check in, update, or re convening for new topics of discussion
Again, these meetings are as rigid or as fluid as you want them to be. The main point of having these meetings is to grow as a family and have a consistent platform where expectations are laid out and check in’s are made with how things are going in the home. It is a wonderful way to hear your child’s perspective and to allow the expression of thought and emotion to happen. It is amazing what my kids end up sharing in these meetings and the creative ideas they have to share.
Ultimately, parents are the authority in the household but allowing the children to have a place where they can RESPECTFULLY share their thoughts and ideas, creates a wonderful dynamic for the family culture. I hope you find success if you choose to implement the family meeting into your home! I would love to hear about your experiences, please leave a comment below to help encourage other families as well.