24 August 2009

Family Meetings

family meeting

The first time I heard of such a thing was the first time I spent Christmas with Chris’ family when we were still dating.  (Side note: See, it used to be that every December, all his brothers and sisters would go back home, usually with their respective partners, to spend Christmas with the family. Now that most of us have kids, we decided to go every summer instead.)

I can’t remember exactly why they called for a family meeting that time. I remember thinking, “Hmm, this should be interesting.” I was wondering how it would go down, what the dynamics would be. Would one person be the facilitator? What would happen if there were dissenting views? Will someone be taking notes? Having grown up an only child, this was all new to me.

Their family meeting wasn’t anything formal. They just gathered around the dining table: some sitting down, one might be leaning against the kitchen counter, some might be standing. Someone would open the discussion by declaring why they were having the meeting, what issue/s they needed to discuss. Then the floor was pretty much open to anyone who would want to speak. Someone would say something. Someone else would respond. Opinions were voiced and shared. Respectfully. They all listened. Respectfully.

What really struck me was how supportive they all were of each other and how well they listened to each other. Even if there were different points of view, there were no raised voices.

I remember thinking what a wonderful family and what a great practice. Oh, and even though for the rest of the year, the siblings live on opposite ends of the country and with Chris in a different part of the world, they still email each other and call each other up. Not necessarily over something that needs to be discussed; sometimes, only well, just because. That made me really wish for siblings (and not just one!).

And no, it was not all serious talk. Even for serious discussions, someone would invariably crack a joke and they’d all laugh and enjoy the humor. After the laughter had subsided, someone would gently guide the discussion back to the topic at hand.

I also remember saying to myself, “I am so implementing family meetings when we have our own family.” Of course, our children are young yet, but when they are a bit older, I think it would be a grand idea to have regular family meetings the way Chris has them with his family.

Did you do / will you be / are you doing family meetings?
What do you think of family meetings?


Herb of Grace said...

We did do family meetings growing up, but they were a tense affair and usually the result of someone getting in super big trouble-- kind of like getting called up in front of an international tribunal... Don't think we'll be doing that with our kids :)

LPC said...

I have always thought they were a great idea.

Helene said...

I really like the concept of family meetings. We used to have weekly family meetings in therapy when I was younger. It seems like we were always in therapy for one reason or another.

Your husband's family sounds wonderful!! When we get together with Tim's family, I'm lucky if I can get a word in edge-wise!!!

I could see us doing family meetings as the kids grow up...just to keep the lines of communication open and make sure everyone's doing okay!

Lindy said...

Yep - we have family meetings but not too often. Normally when big events are staring us in the face and we need everyone on the same page.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Yep... I can even remember a family meeting that must have happened when I was three-years-old because of the house we lived in. And yes, we recently started them with the Tongginator. Knowing her - before too long - she'll be calling them herself. Heh.

Dandy said...

I was so young when all my siblings moved out our family meeting was dinner with the three of us. But I'd like to do something like that.

Hmmm, you'd want more than 1 sibling... does this mean that you're thinking of having another kidlet?

Jennifer said...

I love the idea of family meetings, but in my family, usually a meeting denotes something serious (horrid, even) has occurred.

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