Family Meetings Work

by Heligirl on June 4, 2012

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

A couple of years ago I introduced family meetings here on Heligirl. A positive discipline tool, family meetings are opportunities to bring the family together to problem solve, discuss issues, and basically, at the heart of it all, come closer together.

I have to admit as I wrote about them, I wanted so badly to have them. My kids at the time were way too young to participate and Hubby and I were waiting until they were in bed to have our own kind of “wing-it” meetings, such as comparing schedules for the coming week, talking about vacation time, dealing with a kid issue, etc. When I mentioned the idea of having family meetings, he rolled his eyes. I can love this stuff to death and want to do it, but I have to have his buy in.

After a family meeting, choose a fun activity to do together - play a game, watch a video, even read a story.

This past week I convinced everyone to have our first meeting. I put together a very short agenda, starting with each person saying something he or she appreciates about the others (skipping my three year old who wanted to just repeat the last person).

Hubby and I went first. Seeing my kids’ faces as they sat completely still, focused on us and every word as we told them things we appreciated about them was priceless. My daughter beamed when I told her how I appreciated her getting dressed by herself each morning. My son was all smiles when I told him how I loved the way he said please and thank you and shared with his sister. (By the way, both kids increased those behaviors the following week. Sweet!)

We then discussed an issue in our house, backtalk. I explained what this was and gave an example. Using the rules of logical consequences (choosing a consequence well before a happening), I asked my daughter what she thought was a fair consequence if she talked back. She actually thought about it a bit and said going to her room was a good one. I asked my son if he thought that was a good consequence and he said yes. We all agreed and let the record show the results.

By now I was feeling so good. Why hadn’t we had these meetings before? The kids are on top of it, wanting to contribute. They get it.

Then I mentioned that these meetings were also a place to bring up any concerns. Did anyone have anything they wanted to discuss? I fully expected nothing.

Then Sweetness spoke up.

She said she wanted daddy to go to soccer after she went to bed. Daddy is the one that tucks her in first and reads her a book (she’s on a Daddy kick right now). He’s been playing soccer 2 to 3 times a week this last few weeks, up from once a week, and the times are earlier and earlier, meaning he’s not around for bedtime.

Now, a part of me knows she asks him because she can drag it out with him waaaaay longer than I allow, but the fact that she felt safe bringing this up and did it at the meeting just blew me away. My little 4 ½ year old princess, confidently expressing not only her concern, but couching it in a solution (go play after my bedtime). I actually got all teary eyed.

We talked about it and Daddy explained he doesn’t have a choice when the game is played. I asked her if there was something Daddy could do with her before soccer, maybe read a book early with her. Would that be OK or does she have another idea. She said a book and a snuggle before soccer, even if she still had some playtime before bed, would work.

Noted in the minutes and Daddy held to it the next soccer night.

The kids lost interest as Hubby and I looked over the schedules for the coming weeks, but we got their attention when we mentioned only three weeks of preschool before summer break and swimming lessons.

Then we drew cards to determine the order in which we’d decide our after meeting fun family activity. Mr. Man drew the highest number and he chose we play Hi Ho Cherry-o. So we did. Twice.

My mom tip for this week, from first hand experience, is make a family meeting a priority. We chose a Thursday night because no soccer, date night, weekend trips, etc. would mess with that day. But whatever day, evening, or even morning works for you, schedule it, stick to it, and watch your children blossom while you get issues resolved.


Susan June 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

Congratulations! That was a great meeting. I have to say, that we have never had a family meeting. And knowing how consistant my Dh is with follow through, I’m sad to say, we most likely never will. But I’m so glad you have made this step forward. Kudos to you and your family.
Susan recently posted: What Are My Superpowers, Mom?

Alita Blanchard June 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm

However busy we are, we need to have time to our family especially to our kids because they need more attention to us.
Alita Blanchard recently posted: beach carts

Andrea Smith June 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I think monthly family meetings are a good idea. You get to talk with the kids about their academics and social life, plan for vacation and stuff like that. The implementation is where it gets tricky though
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