Seeking Racial Unity As a Family


From COVID-19 to racial division and upset, 2020 has brought a whole new meaning to real-life moments!  Our world is really struggling, and Real Life Families wants to be a beacon of hope and encouragement as well as continue to provide you with tools to build a strong family and close positive relationships within your family.

But we also want to equip you and your family with tools to help bring unity to our world and do it in a way that strengthens your family too.


THE FAMILY MEETING TOOL–A family meeting is a very intentional and proactive way of coming together as a family each week.  We used to have family meetings that went like this:  “That’s it…family meeting RIGHT NOW!!!!”  And we would just let the kids have it.  It was a very reactive parenting approach and not very effective.  But since developing the Teamwork Parenting Approach which helps parents (including my husband and myself) be more proactive, we’ve seen the value in having family meetings on a regular basis (not just when we are ticked off).

And we can use our family meetings to teach—to teach about character, communication, and even current events and community concerns like racism.

In fact, we had an open and honest conversation around the dinner table the other night about racism.  It was sweet to see their puzzled expressions when we talked about the fact that some people treat people differently because of the color of their skin.  My 6-year-old couldn’t believe it.  That’s a good thing because that means we have done our job so far to teach him that as a Leeb, we are to treat everyone with kindness and respect.  But it also made me aware that we need to do a better job teaching him about the realities of racism in our world so he can be better equipped to handle situations as they arise when he gets older. This is another reason to have intentional family meetings.

Have a family meeting about racism and talk about what your kids know and don’t know (of course in age-appropriate ways).  You may just have some great opportunities for some insightful discussions like we did.

Need help getting a family meeting started?  We use the 5 P’s—

1. P—Praise—Start with positives—take turns sharing one good thing that happened in your day or week.  I think we could all use to hear some positive things.
2. P—Plans—Share any plans for the week (we’ve been skipping this one lately because we have nothing going on because of COVID-19), but you can use this time to share any family special time or individual kid time stuff you have planned.
3. P—Practice—Use anything you saw your kids struggle with that week and practice it.  For example–

  • if there was a lot of sibling rivalry over sharing, have them role-play sharing a toy.
  • if there were a lot of issues about listening and obeying, put some silly requests (like run around the table barking like a dog) and/or serious requests (like go upstairs and put your pajamas on) in a cup and have them take turns picking something out that they have to do.  Practicing listening and obeying can be fun!
  • if there were a lot of struggles turning off electronics, have them practice turning an electronic off the first time you ask them.
  • here is where you can add any other teaching moments pertinent to what’s going on the world like with racism–at our family meeting this week, we had our kids practice standing up to a bully who was picking on someone because of their skin color.  They used one of our family phrases:  “Hey, leave him alone. Everyone deserves respect.”

4. P—Pray—Sit or stand in a circle and hold hands and pray together.  Pray over your family issues and even our community or world issues.  Here’s another way we can all help end racism. Imagine every week if every family from every race prayed for racial unity and for wisdom to make that happen!  Wow! What a difference that could make.

At the end of our prayer time, we do a big family hug.  Then, before we move on to the last P, we all stack our hands in the middle of our circle and do a quick…”Gooooooooooo, Leebs!”  (Because remember that your family is your team, let’s build that idea with some fun.)

5. P—Play—This is such a great one.  Taking time to play as a family together is so powerful.  SO POWERFUL! Not only is play powerful for relationship-building in your family, it’s good for your kids and for YOU!  Play helps our brains, our bodies, and our emotions.  In fact, in my research for my master’s in Psychology, Stuart Brown, The Founder of the National Institute for Play, shared something profound: “Work isn’t the opposite of play.  Depression is the opposite of play.”  He goes on to say: “Nothing lights up the brain more than play.”

Play together—play board games, play freeze tag, play kick ball, play cards, play hide and seek.  End each family meeting doing something fun together.  One of my favorite things to do is have a big family tickle fight. Or better yet…a big family pillow fight (I know I’ve shared this before, but it still feels good to hit my husband with a pillow. And any child who has irritated me that week–and they just laugh and laugh. LOL!)

Use play as a way to connect your family and bring some joy to your life.

And use The Family Meeting Tool to unite, to educate, and to have fun with your family…and that just might be a big step to bringing unity to the world.

Here is a PDF of the 5 P’s of a Family Meeting.

Lord, it is good and pleasing to you when Your people live in unity. Show us what we can do in our families and in our communities to make that happen.  

Here’s to building better families together–

Christine

The 5 P’s for Family Meetings

“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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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–

Christine