Jeff and I called a “family meeting” last night. It was our first “official” one as a family. The idea came about on our way home from our road trip to the west. All the kids had finally fallen asleep and that meant… we could finally talk about them!
We had been on the road for the last 8 days driving from Chicago to Albuquerque, then Santa Fe, back to Albuquerque, and a quick stop in Roswell before finally heading to the Dallas area. For the most part, everything we shared was pretty good. They were very well-behaved, polite and helpful, didn’t ask for too much and they were actually appreciative of everything we did with or for them. However, there was one thing we noticed throughout the whole trip… our children’s inability to deal with their own emotions calmly-especially when dealing with disappointment.
Maybe it was the fact that it was 11 pm with another 4 and a half hours to go or maybe it was the sugar from all the road trip snack food, but either way we were on a roll. Jeff and I were in full analyze and brainstorm mode: maybe they can’t react calmly, maybe they are stressed out, maybe they don’t have the proper coping mechanisms, maybe they watch too much Disney Channel tweeny-bob shows, maybe they didn’t get enough sleep, maybe we nag them too much, maybe they didn’t eat the right foods, maybe they want more control, maybe they are overstimulated, maybe maybe maybe!! BLAH! You know what we decided, they are just kids! That’s right, kids.
We can try to train them to act like mini-adults with perfect manners with the ability to calmly problem-solve when they are hit with the need to “fight or flight”, but in realty they are kids… 4, 7, and 9 to be exact! We hope that one day all of our lessons and high expectations will pay off and that they’ll be well-behaved adults that add great value to society, but we have a LONG way to go before we can get there. We decided starting a tradition of Sunday family meetings was necessary.
While we were talking, Jeff and I realized that our kids may -at times- take on our coping strategies of dealing with stress or disappointment. Really, they are a reflection of us and sometimes it takes seeing your own kid in an ugly moment to realize that you have them, too. And those ugly moments are not pretty! So, I guess the apples don’t fall too far from the trees. Since we realized that we need to work on this area as well, we decided that our meeting couldn’t wait and that we’d have one the next night; after catching up on some zzzzzz’s!
After dinner on Sunday night Jeff and I put together a family meeting planner made up of 4 categories: Family Expectations, Family Responsibilities, Family Needs, and Family Feelings. We determined that we needed to first give everyone a chance to add to the list of family expectations. Then, we would move on to listing out different responsibilities in the house and assigning them. Our next task was to allow everyone a chance to share what they thought the family needed this week. The final category is where we all talk about our thoughts or feelings from the week and make plans to change or resolve any negative lingering emotions. If you’d like a copy of the family meeting planner I created, click here.
We also decided on some how-to’s for our family meetings to be effective and successful. They might change over time, but here is what we started with.
This week, I challenge you to look at yourself when you see something in someone else that unsettles, annoys, or frustrates you. If Jeff and I weren’t frustrated by our kids lack of coping skills to deal with disappointment, then we wouldn’t have analyzed them and ultimately talked about ourselves and how we deal with our emotions. Which is how we arrived at the importance of starting family meetings. Please don’t let yours or anyone else’s UGLY moments determine the quality of your day. Be OPEN-MINDED and GRATEFUL for the GOOD around you. Learn something from that moment and turn the ugly into something beautiful.
There are no happy accidents~