“His half of the room is always messy!”
“I missed my lesson because you forgot!”
“I loved that new recipe; let’s have it again!”
Where does your family find time and space to address issues, express concerns, or discuss how things are “working” in your family?
One weekly tradition we have implemented is a family meeting on Sunday nights.
WHY? What were our objectives and what did we hope to gain as a family with these meetings?
A set-aside time for Intentional Family Meetings gives us opportunities to wisely work through many of the issues that come up throughout the course of the week. With a little bit of distance of time, we have found that they are not as emotionally raw and volatile as they would have been in the situation itself. Dealing with issues immediately is not always the most effective way. Especially if you have a very emotional child that might not listen to reason right then anyway. (Anyone have one of those!?)
They has benefited our family because we can hear our children out and they can express themselves in a disassociated way, outside of the situation.
It gives our children a chance to feel as though they’ve been heard so we can parent in a sensitive way, hearing how they interpret what we think is right.
It also gives them an opportunity to look to us for wisdom to manage household affairs. We model family living for them and we want an important component of that to be considering and honoring each other, not thinking of only their concerns as important.
What are some elements of our meeting?
- We let them take turns ringing a chime to commence and end the meeting.
- We have a $1 bin Notebook on the living room shelf to write down issues during the week that become our Agenda; to take notes during the meeting; and check back on progress in future weeks. Any one is free to write in it during the week and it will be read at the meeting.
- We introduce a Hymn to learn and sing together, imparting doctrine through the classic lyrics. This is especially important to us as our church does not sing many of the old classic hymns that we hid as our heart as children.
- We discuss what’s working or not working lately. We have an open discussion for suggestions in schedule, reward charts, chores, lessons, etc.
- They appreciate feeling like part of the family by hearing what upcoming plans are, when a babysitter will be there, if we will be traveling, etc.
- When needed, we bring up issues to forgive each other, express hurts, listen in prayer for healing together and pray about the next week.
A few Scripture verses to consider for this time:
“To answer before listening, that’s a folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
“The first to bring a case seems right, until a second comes and calls it into question.” Proverbs 18:17
“Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19
Honestly, when we first called our first meeting to order, we didn’t expect them to go over well. But they will not let a Sunday go by without it now! They are bringing out the bell and pulling out the Notebook. We do discuss the sacred, serious, and silly and I think they appreciate that they have a scheduled time to bring up concerns and suggestions, to feel like a real contributor to our family, and to be reassured they will be lovingly heard. The strengthened relationship also opens the door for the bigger questions of life too. It has become a unifying theme I hope will survive the teenage years. Have you tried this?
*In the next part of this series I will be interviewing and featuring how other families conduct their “family meetings.” Some are mostly business, some are mainly spiritual. If you would like to be featured or have an idea to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered.
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