Some Advice from a Mentor
When as a young mother I asked a mentor, “What is the one piece of advice you would give a mother of young kids?” she told me that one of the most valuable pieces of advice she had received as a parent herself was to run regular family meetings. She described how they were able to resolve many more issues at their Family Meetings than during the heat of the moment. She said it was a ritual that helped them grow together as a family, they often reminisced about it now that their children were grown up, and have kept the notebooks containing the minutes of their meetings.
Evolving Our Family Meetings
My kids were probably about 4 and 6 when we started family meetings of our own. They could not sit still and we had them rather sporadically for many years. When they finally hit the age where a weekly cash allowance piqued their interest, it was a bit easier to entice the gang to sit at the dining table on Saturday mornings to have a “family meeting” (can you see the head wobbling and eye rolling?) to discuss that and other issues.
After all these years, the Family Meetings are a consistent part of our lives and they are indeed invaluable. We have grown as a family, learning to discuss topics as a group and developing our organizational skills. They have evolved a lot. When they were little, we had meetings that lasted about 5 minutes. As they got older, some meetings ended up to be an hour and a half, learning the hard way that this made it extremely unpleasant!
There is a lot less groaning about them now than when we first started. Also, it’s become a lot easier to keep them sitting still rather annoyingly watching them bounce around. They even bring topics to the table. Meetings are now scheduled for every two weeks, usually Sunday morning.
- Allowance — it goes without saying that it’s the first thing on our agenda!
- Weight — we stopped doing this; it’s probably better that we don’t weight ourselves all the time.
- Planning for trips — such as, visiting grandparents.
- Family chores — there is a list of 4 items and we each choose one we will do.
- Updates — anything to share with the rest of the family?
- Extra-curricular activities — who wants to take what classes and how things are going.
It took a long time to evolve our Family Meetings into a regular event that everyone participates in equally. It’s particularly gratifying to see our kids be able to turn to us parents and say “Can we do such-and-such differently? Currently it has this-and-that impact on me and I don’t like it.” I also love that in the heat of the moment, one of more of us will say “Hey, we should add this to our Family Meeting.”
Do you have Family Meetings? How do you make yours work?