Maybe you’ve heard of family meetings, maybe not. I’m willing to wager if you’re familiar with family meeting you most likely think of it as a business meeting for the family. Mom and Dad tell the kids what they need to do, where they need to be, dole out chores, perhaps discuss some new policies in the house, and maybe hand out some cash with strings attached. [Yawn…..]
I’m not sure what’s worse – this time together being a snooze fest or that nothing really changes for more than a day or two. It’s near impossible to keep pulling the family together for a meeting when they are boring as hell and nothing changes.
Enter the Family Meeting for the 21st Century
It’s not about the kids sitting quietly while the parents talk and talk and then talk some more. It’s not about doling out jobs as the kids sit there rolling their eyes in protest, it’s not about dealing with pesky behavior and making the kids feel shamed and judged, it’s not about passing out a few greenbacks with a lecture from you on not blowing it all on crap.
No, ma’am. It’s hard to imagine all the benefits and opportunities that come with hosting regular family meetings because you haven’t experienced them (yet). To learn the true power of Family Meeting, just read what real families, with real kids have to say about them.
What it would be like to hear your kids begin to show appreciation for their siblings:
“Hey Margo, thanks for letting me borrow your….”, or
“Henry, thanks for helping me with my math last night”, or
“I feel sad for other kids who don’t have you for a big sister”.
How would it feel if they showed appreciation for YOU?
“Mom, I know you didn’t have to bring me my soccer shoes, but thanks for making the extra trip”, or
“I know I was a jerk last night, Dad. Thanks for not blowing up at me”, or
“I know I can tell you anything and you aren’t going to freak out”.
What would it mean to you to hear your kids say things like:
“Thanks, I worked hard on that”, and
“Yes, it is getting easier for me to… “ or
“I am really good at…” (Instead of hearing them criticize, berate or judge themselves.)
Kids who appreciate their own strengths and qualities are far more likely to acknowledge others. And yes, they ARE capable of showing gratitude.
The appreciation portion of the meeting accomplishes this and so much more. Now, play this forward a bit and imagine your child has the confidence to show appreciation for their classmates, teachers, coaches, neighbors. What would that mean?
This is just a taste of what’s possible when you institute regular family meetings.
What would it be like to have kids who were not only willing to help out around the house on a regular basis but understood that they were supporting the family by doing so? Imagine your children solving their own sibling spats, or even more important, learning how to disagree, creatively negotiate, and stand up for what they believe – even in the most difficult scenarios.
Tell me – How are you building these traits in your children? What are you doing consistently to help them develop skills like appreciation, gratitude, cooperation, time management, organization and problem-solving? Business leaders tell us what kids need today more than anything else is problem-solving skills. How are you helping your kids learn this critical life skill?
Family meetings are the multi-vitamin for building character
In my 25 years of coaching parents, I’ve never seen a return on investment like the one you get when you add a regular family meeting to your family routine. A 15-minute family meeting becomes the weekly ritual that sets your entire family up for success. It becomes the engine that fuels the family forward, powers the learning, keeping the progress on track.
In this rushed, scheduled, virtual time of life, family meeting is the sole vehicle that brings the family together. The components of the family meeting are the mechanism for bringing out the best in you as a parent and your kids. That’s important. This isn’t a ritual for the kids’ benefit. It’s for the FAMILY’s benefit. It creates a space for you and the kids to become the best you can be. Not cliche. This is real. This is empowerment in action – every single week.
Family meeting gives you the opportunity to model patience, support, love, and respect. It’s a time to show faith in your kids. At family meeting, you treat kids as equals and give them a voice to share that is safe. Do you know one of the biggest complaints by middle and high schoolers of their parents? They treat me like a kid and I’m capable of so much more than that. No time like the present to start giving them a voice and showing that you trust them.
Are family meetings a cinch? Not at the start. I always encourage you to start SLOW. This gives you the time to trip up the process (no doubt, you will) and expect the kids to falter, too. But each time you come back to family meeting, you all become more anchored as contributing members of your unique family. Each time the kids show up and particulate in appreciations, they become more anchored in how fabulous they are.
The real heart-swelling joy comes when you get to see the growth, confidence, and courage, played out every day as your kids feed off the nurturing that comes from family meetings.
Moving forward: if you’re interested in learning more about how to get started with family meetings, check out Family Meetings that Move.