Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family Meetings

There are a huge number of ways to do a family meeting, but the general goal is for each family member to be able to be part of the process of making the family run smoothly.  For a long time, we just discussed issues as a family when they came up and it worked.  My kiddo got the feel of rational conversations to address anything that wasn't working well.  He got used to sharing his ideas and learning to listen to the ideas of the other family members too.  About a year ago, we decided to designate a regular time each week when we'd have a family meeting.  This allowed us to follow up on old business, bring up new issues, and make sure that we were all happy with the way we were interacting.

We start our family meetings with compliments.  Each person gives each of the other family members a compliment.  Not only does this help us focus on the positive, it also helps us recall times during the week when we admired each other.  About six months ago, I was thinking about the growth vs. fixed mentality* and decided to add one more thing to this intro, a mistake.  So, each person also shares a mistake that they've made during the week and what they've learned from that experience.  The goal here is to make mistakes OK and recognize them as part of the learning process.  I want my kiddo especially to see how common it is for grown ups to make mistakes and how the important thing is how we respond to those opportunities.

Once we've all handled sharing our compliments and mistake, we review old business.  That basically involves pulling out the sheet of topics from the last meeting and seeing if the decisions worked or need to be tweaked in any way.  It also includes updates on status if one person was trying to make something happen.  For example, I brought up my kiddo getting a bit better at swimming to reach a level of safety that would serve him well.  We talked about the idea and then the lessons and timing and came up with a plan that made everyone happy.  I went off to do the research.  In the next meeting, I reported back that our best option was not open during the fall, but would reopen in March (check, item placed into my Getting Things Done system and out of the family meeting queue).  If old items include a new plan like a homework routine without nagging, we see if it worked and if everyone is happy or if more tweaks are needed.  These conversations remain very open and focused on solving a shared problem of the family.  My kiddo learned very early on that we don't call names in this family so even lively arguments about best options don't involve insults.

Finally, we open up the floor to any new family business.  Has someone been noticing that it's too loud to get to sleep or the socks never seem to wind up in the laundry bin or there isn't enough computer time?  We talk about whatever a family member is experiencing as a problem and tackle the best next actions we can take to make the situation better.

So... family meetings?  Do you have them?  Do you have any interesting tweaks that you've added like my mistake addition?  I must say that we've had some of the best times sharing mistakes, laughing, and clarifying what we've learned!  In the comments, I'd love to hear what has worked for you!

* The idea here is that a fixed mindset sees intelligence/skill as something fixed i.e. I'm smart/skilled or dumb/clumsy.  In this view, failing at something means that you're dumb or just bad at it so kids don't try.  They want to succeed at get the smart/skilled label.  The growth mindset sees intelligence/skill as something responsive to effort i.e. I'm smart because I worked hard or skilled because I practiced.  In this view, failing is part of the process of getting smarter and more skilled.  It's expected, normal, and shows you're doing something right because you're trying something where you didn't know the answer or skill already.  Of course, talent is a factor, but even a prodigy needs to practice and work hard to learn.  The growth mindset reflects the reality of how people learn.

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