The family meeting is a big part of Parenting on Track, and as it happens, it’s a part I really love. But oh, it’s hard to schedule. The idea is to meet once a week, at a regular time, for the following: family “appreciations,” the choosing/handing out of jobs (which ought to be called contributions, but we don’t), problems (which we don’t really do yet, I’m waiting to get really regular with the meeting) and allowance.
I think tonight was our first meeting in a month. We eat dinner together, all six of us, very nearly every night, but weeknights are chock full. Even if there’s no activity (and we’re down to two a week now), getting Sam and Lily through their homework is slow and painful (a sentence that right away makes me realize we’re not doing our job there, but that’s a different question) and it seems like there’s always something–haircuts or a playdate or the twice annual swim school. On weekends, again, we’re usually all home, at some point, but getting me and Rob to sit down is hard–we tend to have plans for the time, even if the plan is “getting in a run” or “clearing out the ski gear.” So we’re working on it, and I’m eying Monday night as a regular thing.
And this was Monday night. A family meeting isn’t supposed to exceed 20 minutes. It’s supposed to go quick and dirty. But what on earth is a parent to say when her kids keep frantically raising their hand with another “appreciation?” Wait, no, you’re not allowed to say any more nice things about anyone in this family! Stop!
Yeah, it was a cool problem to have. They’re nice kids, overall, kinda mostly. I remember reading earlier this year that how empathetic you are isn’t about your parents or your peers-it’s about your older sibling and how he or she treated you. And our oldest is really something special in that regard. But he mostly has his work cut out for him as an example…
In any case, they were charmingly anxious to appreciate one another, and clearly also appreciative of the opportunity to get everyone to listen to you all at once. Rory was adorable, because this kid, this loud, bossy, out there kid, becomes a teeny weeny quiet shy person when all eyes are on her–but she battles it out, even with Rob insisting she say “appreciate” in all of its multi-syllabic glory. It takes her about three minutes to get out one appreciation, and everyone else is bouncing, ready, wiggling, anxious, antsy–but by the third time, they managed to hold it all in, and she got to listen to us all silent and waiting for her to talk.
I do believe that’s worth any amount of inconvenience!