Sunday, February 16, 2014

The "Ultimate" Mom: Family Meetings

Chapter 5: Give Everyone In Your Home What They Want Including YOU!

When I first began this chapter, I met it with more scepticism than concentration. I admit, the title really threw me off. Yeah, it sounds good...but in reality...who lives like that? In my house (and maybe even in yours) when you try to make everyone happy, usually nobody ends up happy. And communication is difficult to come by...either we are "nagging", "whining" or just don't get what it is the other people are trying to say so ultimately it ends in frustration, confusion or indifference.

But as I read through this chapter, I began to realize that this may not be the case. This chapter explains the importance of Family Meetings. Now, my family and I have tried them...and in some cases succeeded. But the problem we have run into is consistency. We have one only when the issues in the family become intolerable and then its more of a lecture than a family meeting.

Here, it describes approaching the family each week! That's right, each week. A chance every week to address issues before they reach that boiling point where we "just cant stand it any longer"! It also suggests that these meetings allow for mutual respect and importance throughout the family. I can see how if handled just right, it would, in fact, allow everyone a chance to speak their needs and address issues among one another in a calm manner, rather than lashing out in the heat of the moment.

It also suggests that adding rituals, fun and appreciation to the meeting will help the family bond ensure more success than treating it like a "business meeting". Set rules and boundaries, use timers if necessary and insist on respect. Don't force participation, but encourage it. Allow time for each family member to speak, and be sure to begin and end with something positive and/or uplifting.

This is something that I have wanted to get my family involved it. I tend to "nag" as I have been told, when in reality I am only trying to convey my needs/feelings about things. I believe a family meeting will be very beneficial to our house hold. We have a very independent and remarkably perceptive 6 year old. I believe she would enjoy the open sharing of a family meeting...and I believe it will help her through her adjustment with a new sibling in the home as well.

One suggestion this book gave, was to have a place where family members write down ideas to cover in the meeting each week. That way issues are not forgotten. I believe I am going to use a jar. I have a peanut butter jar that I can empty (yum!) and clean out to use. We can put a small pad of paper (sticky notes or the like) next to it where we can write it down and place in the jar until the meeting is "called to order". I love this idea, because I tend to forget things rather quickly.

Here is the actions suggested at the end of the chapter:

Chapter Tips:

  1. To ensure your "family meetings' do not turn in to "bored meetings" always include time for sharing, for fun and for play!
  2. Rituals like "Thank You For's", "Appreciations" and "Chicken Soup For The Soul" moments establish trust and connection for your entire family.
  3. The first step to resolving conflict is realizing that often, family members ultimately want the same thing - to feel cherished, appreciated and respected.
Taking Action:

  • Choose a day to schedule your "Family Meeting" and decide to enjoy it even if you are the only person who shows up.
  • Brainstorm fun family rituals that the whole family wants to try and start using them. (I be sharing this in a separate post)

Does your family use family meetings? What kids of things do you incorporate? How successful are they? Any great stories to share from a meeting? Please feel free to post your thoughts below!

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