Family meetings help children and families learn how to negotiate and resolve issues, this was the first post in the series. Last time we looked at how family roundtables or gatherings reduce tension by releasing that pressure valve that builds.Today we’re looking at the importance that everyone has a voice at a session.
Just because you’re the oldest or the adult doesn’t mean you talk the most. By following a framework we can all be heard and now we discuss why this is necessary in all families for family harmony.
Everyone has a voice
If you want to have quality and continued conversations with your children when they are teens you need to give their voice value. They need to be heard when they are little. They need to be heard as they enter the school years and as a tween; not just specific times but all the way through.
Their idea might not be good but let’s walk through with it to its logical conclusion. Giving the words and supporting the situation helps each child to figure out empathy and seeing things from other points of view. This is usually what stops us from letting them have this voice. We are way ahead of them. We can see the problems and have vetoed it already. Children need to learn how to do this by talking through their ideas to logical ends.
Their idea might in fact be good. Let us hear that during the family meeting. Family is a good place to express opinions and support our children through to logical conclusions.
Say your grievances
Grievances go both ways:
Many of the squabbles we have in our homes are petty things that don’t get a chance to be aired and everyone listened to. How you fill the trash can and what you do when the bag slips down really wasn’t a big deal to me. But it was to those in the family who had to empty the bin. There were a few people who didn’t check when they pitched into the trash.
As a result when you took out the bag you had to take out the complete bin and wash it down. Effectively doubling the contribution and making him unhappy.
Seems petty and annoying but from his point of view he’d told the culprits and it made him get all crazy about a trash bag and how we fill a bin.
Fill a bin! One day recently he placed it on our Family Roundtable worksheet as a point to raise in the gathering…
Source: Meet at the Family Roundtable
It is these petty things that don’t get aired because there’s no place and time for them that creep out in different ways at the wrong times. The trash can annoyance mentioned above isn’t such a big deal now because the frustration is shared. We all understood. It was an easy fix.
To encourage everyone to have a voice have a format or agenda. Something that you do each time and everyone has a turn doing it.
Tips for better family meetings
Keep it fun and short. As you go along you’ll find you’ll need to talk about interrupting, flaming, shouting each other down, pouting and what you’ll do about it. Each family is different and it’s usually excitement to get their point across so most of us are happy to change things so we are all heard and listened to.
During the family meeting or gathering don’t just limit these gatherings to just being around a table, like meetings we find at work. Find your family way. It might be before, during or after dinner or on the floor or the local ice cream shop. Experiment.
After all the conversation and everyone having their voice let there be a time for wrapping up. We need to reflect on what’s happened because a lot has been said. We need to have a direction to go. Is there any actions? and we need to look forward to better so ending the gathering well.
Download this frame to support your family meeting.
Part 1 Introducing family meetings to young families
Part 2 Why family meetings are great for reducing tension in families
Part 3 We need all the voices in the family meeting
For more systems and family flows check out this Pinterest board