The Family Meeting

The Family Meeting. I started quarterly meetings with my kids a few years ago.  We have staff meetings as adults at work, right?  So, I figured, what better way to find the pulse of what’s going on in your own family than by providing a forum to safely express whatever is on their mind.  One week before a meeting, I’ll set out a flip chart with colored markers for the kids to jot down specific points they’d like to bring up.  I’ll go into a meeting with a list of talking points, but otherwise, it’s fairly free flowing.

I use food as my bait, so during dinner works best.  After inquiring about the highs & lows of the day I’ll call the meeting to order.  I start with the lead question “How do you think the family life is going? Most importantly, how can we improve as a family?”  After that, the floor is open to anyone who wants to present & discuss their stuff. Kids are visual, right?  So, with my flip chart & colored markers I draw a play-by-play with lots of X’s & O’s & arrows like a coach of how they can help with stuff like the laundry.  I bring up the subject of my pursuing yoga teacher training, listing the pros & cons, asking them for their input.  As my supporting staff, they gave me the their full support and cooperation, reminding me that we are a good team.

Generally, the meetings go well.  I try to keep them brief and to the point.  We come away with a better sense of who we are as a family. Why do I do it?  It’s twofold:  a.) it helps me reestablish myself as the HOH (Head of Household)  and b.) to empower them – give them an opportunity to voice what’s working for them and what isn’t.  It serves as a reminder that we're all on the same side.

It’s most sobering when I’ve gotten called out for some of my actions.  Admittedly, they’ll be absolutely right and I’m forced to walk my talk and apologize for being authoritarian when I didn’t need to be.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any choices, only responsibilities. Which manifests itself in my getting crabby.  They don’t like it and neither do I.

Does this make us a better family?  I don’t know.  But it keeps the dialogue open and that’s really all I’m trying to do, especially in what can be the reticent teenage years ahead. Then again, my kids have NO PROBLEM voicing their never-to-be-humble opinions.

Like Mubarak losing control of Cairo, I’m losing control of tonight’s meeting. My own little nation is staging a revolution. My oldest puts on my glasses and has taken over the flip chart.  She begins to make her sister an elaborate design of how she will forever more be in charge of the trash.  My youngest starts to shout like a protestor from Tahrir Square and something about an increase in allowance.  Even the dog is barking about something. Well, at least they have a sense of humor about it all.

I can see I need to resign office now.  I best slip off to my bedroom before a riot starts.  Meeting adjourned.  Thank you for your time.

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