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–