Hello fellow housewives!
I’m about to get real.
|Conforto Family: Jason Conforto|
Families are awesome. And tough. And worth it. And complicated.
Families are a team, right? Then how is it that we don’t always act like one?
We can totally do this. We’ve watched Remember the Titans. How hard can this be?
Answer: Really, really hard.
Fortunately we do have some tools to help us. Like the family mission statement. It is a beautiful thing to help people realize that they are on the same page, working towards the same goals. But not everybody has one of these…yet.
So let me back up to the first tool that I would recommend: Family Council.
Family councils are just like they sound, councils for the family. They are time that has been set aside to allow each member of the family to be heard. Parents can’t govern their children without first understanding their children. Children will find it hard to obey parents that they hardly know. Each person, big and small, has a desire to be heard and understood. And love and compassion grow when we take the time to get to know one another better.
These councils shouldn’t just appear when there is a problem (though they are excellent at pulling everyone together). They should be a normal part of life in a family. They don’t have to be super formal either (though they can be.) You can council over dinner or on a car ride as long as rules about being respectful are being obeyed.
- If possible set a time and place so that it isn’t sprung on family members like a ill-devised intervention
- Remember to focus on a lot of positives. You want them to come away feeling good about the experience. You don’t need to air every grievance in the first meeting. (That’s what Festivus is for!) Praise them for their attendance. Praise them for the things that they are doing to create a good family. Encourage them to praise one another.
- Some people use the pattern of starting with the best parts of the week, then the hard parts, then anything that they feel should be addressed.
- Start young. If you’ve already missed this boat then start at wherever you are. But there is a value in starting young that might be missed when parents think that small children can’t contribute to a council. Kids are smart!
- Consider taking the time in one of these councils to create a mission statement. It will guide subsequent meetings and guide your every day interactions.
- letting councils turn into heated debates
- allowing any form of disrespect, from interrupting to unkind words.
- allowing or becoming the Family Council Dictator. Everyone must feel free to express their concerns without the All-Powerful-Bossy-One coming in and deciding how to fix/rule/conquer everything. It’s a team of equals, not the Smart One cleverly disguising a lecture to the Stupid Ones.
- decisions should be made by consensus not voting. Each member of the group should feel comfortable enough to move forward. This is very tricky but it encourages unification in a way that voting does not.
In the busy world that we live in it means a lot for us to show each other that we believe our families are worth the time to hold family councils. That we believe that each person is an important member of our team. To show each other that we believe that our team will be successful and we are willing to put in the effort to make it happen. In a world of mind numbing television and app games, and distracting entertainment it would be much easier for us to let our families just kind of drift and become whatever they become but we teach our kids how much we value families when we put forth the effort to create a thriving family environment.
|1950's family: Seattle Municipal Archives|
Shelly Brown is a mother to five crazy kids, caretaker of five crazy chickens, and wears the hat of children’s book writer at least 5 days a week. Her debut children’s book Ghostsitter comes out October 1st but you can preorder today on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local independent bookseller.