“That’s it! Family Meeting RIGHT NOW!” This is how our Family Meetings used to come about. They were mainly a we-can’t-take-this-anymore type of meeting where we basically ripped them a new one. Our Family Meetings used to be more out of desperation for control in the chaos than anything else. Now they are more intentional.
Over the past few years, as we have developed the Teamwork Parenting Approach, we have been implementing The Family Meeting Tool by having regularly scheduled Family Meetings. Every Monday night after dinner, bath, and pajamas, we gather around the kitchen table for a little snack and our weekly team meeting.
They have been so helpful and powerful–especially with the 4 P’s we focus on each time to help our team…our family…be stronger…
- PRAISE: It’s so important for any strong team to focus on what they’re doing well. This is simply a time to focus on the positive things about our family. We all take turns sharing what we’ve enjoyed doing together, what we feel has been going smoothly, or any ways we have improved as a family over the past week.
- PLAN: Strong teams take time to plan ahead. Families who know what’s coming up in their week can work better to get the things done that need to get done. We share any events, birthdays, special occasions, school outings, or activities. We also make a point to have one special family time on the calendar. I truly believe that the key to a strong family is spending time together. Oh and we also share with our kids when we have a date night coming up too. It’s so important for our kids to know that we invest in our marriage and make it a priority.
- PRACTICE: All great teams need practice. Our families need practice too. I keep a Family Meeting Agenda sheet on our refrigerator so that any family member can jot things down that our family needs to practice. Some recent items on our agenda? Respecting the “No”, Things I Can and Can’t Control, Listening and Obeying, What To Do and NOT Do While We Are on the Phone, What To Do Instead of Losing Your Cool, etc. It’s been incredibly helpful to give our kids these tools in advance during calm times instead of feeling out of control and resorting to anger and yelling during the crazy times. It’s really about being more proactive instead of reactive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to keep my cool and say: “Remember what we practiced at our Family Meeting. How can you Respect her ‘No’?” And then they remember that they have the tools to Respect her ‘No’ by saying “Ok, I’m disappointed you’re not going to play. If you change your mind, I will be in the basement playing something else” because we’ve practiced it together in advance! How awesome is that? Giving kids the tools they will need to resolve conflict, stand up for themselves, solve problems, and respect others will help them in our family teams, but will also help them in life!
- PRAY: A family who prays together…stays together. I love it when my team…my family…holds hands around the table and prays over our week. We take time to pray over the skills we practiced, over any requests the kids have, and we always pray that the Leeb family would be God’s love and light in this world.
- PLAY: I also believe strongly that a family who PLAYS together…stays together. After each family meeting, we play a game together. It’s a great way to end our meeting–laughing and having fun together.
After our meeting is over, we always huddle together, put our hands in the middle and say: “Go Leebs!” Then we do a big team hug.
Our meetings aren’t perfect. Sometimes we’ve had to end them early and send the kids to bed and try again the next night, but we keep going. We keep meeting. We keep gathering together as a team each and every week.
If you’d like to get started on your own Family Meetings, here are a few quick tips:
- Let your kids know that these meetings are a chance to make your family a better and stronger team.
- Start small–especially while your kids are small. You can start with just 3 P’s–Praise, Pray, and Play and build from there.
- Assure your older kids that they will have a chance to share what concerns they have too.
- Set up clear and firm expectations and consequences for behavior at the meetings in advance.
- Keep the meeting on the same day and time each week if possible.
- Keep it short, light-hearted, and as encouraging as possible.
- Always have a snack. LOL!
Lord, Your word reminds us that where two or more are gathered together in Your name, You are with them. (Matthew 18:20) Provide the opportunity for our families to gather in Your name and unite, talk, share, laugh, learn, and grow to be all that You created them to be.
Here’s to building better families together–