What parent doesn’t want to build a family to be proud of? I know I do. Not just for my own ego but to leave a lasting legacy of growth for others. Yet we often let the days slip by without acting intentionally to build a family that will last.
Photo via www.jaha.org/edu
For some parents, the demands of a hectic schedule pull a family away from the noble goal. For others, a unifying vision is missing to connect all the family members. Still others feel as if they’re standing bewildered on the curb of life each day, mesmerized by the traffic zipping by, just praying no one gets hurt too badly in the chaos.
Our family has learned one of the keys to building a family we can be proud of. Like any building project, it requires some planning, intentional action, and committment to see the project through. But it’s worth it — if only to be rid of the feeling that our family is about to step into the path of an oncoming bus! How can you build a family you can be proud of?
The family meeting.
The idea for having a weekly family meeting is not original to us — although we have customized it to fit our family culture. We’ve had them consistently for the last several years. Every Thursday around 7:30 PM, our family gathers around the table — a square one purchased with just such meetings in mind. We’ll explore more of what happens in those meetings in parts two and three of this series, but I thought it better to first share with you why we have family meetings.
And who better to ask than our own children who have experienced those meetings for the last several years? After we finished dinner last night, I asked them this question: If someone asked you why a family should have a family meeting each week, what would you tell them? To my surprise all six — ages 4-11 — were eager to share their reasons.
My own kids explain why to have family meetings:
- “Get connected.” (age 10) Family meetings give us a designated place and time to connect as a family. In our increasingly disconnected world. The fact that my kids recognize and value the family connection is priceless. Our family mission statement provides the frame-work around which we connect. More on that in later posts.
- “Share what you’re struggling with and how to pray for each other.” (age 11) Family meetings create a safe place to share about whatever we facing in life. At the meeting, we intentionally slow down and respectfully listen to what others want to share. And we pray. And listen.
- “We learn about the seven steps.” (age 5) He meant the “Seven Habits” popularized by Steven Covey, but — close enough. [See my series on the Biblical basis for the Seven Habits here.] The fact that my son views them as important and can likely recite most of them is — well, a win-win (Habit 6). We also spend time applying the Bible to life scenarios.
- “We have fun times.” (age 8 ) Can you have too much fun together as a family? Hard to do these days. We have “Bring a Furry Friend” and “Historical — or Goofy — Dress-up” nights that liven up the time and make it fun for everyone. We’ve ended up spending more than a few of our meetings not covering our entire agenda, but laughing hysterically together.
- “SNACKS!” (age 7) Food is a vital part of any successful meeting and family is no exception. It wouldn’t be a family meeting without a special snack to finish it off. Each week our kids take turns lining up tasty treats that ensure the meeting is a big win — even if all else fails.
- “We know how to have the next day.” (age 4) Out of the mouth of babes comes one of the most critical benefits of the family meeting. We review together the schedule for the week ahead. Gone is the unexpected surprise event that I forgot to mention to my ever-patient wife or that swimming lesson that got lost in the shuffle. As a bonus, the kids know what’s coming. We find it gives them a sense of calm and security knowing what’s next. They don’t like being blindsided any more than we do with unexpected plans.
For a thorough explanation of the family meeting as an essential tool to build a family you can be proud of, I highly recommend Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. Buy it now. It’s that good. My tribute to Stephen Covey is here. In my next post, we’ll explore how the family meeting actually takes place in our family.
Do regular family meetings already take place in your family? Take a minute to share your experiences with a comment so others can grow.
(Some links may be affilliate links which means I might receieve pennies if you purchase something I link to no additional cost to you. I’d only suggest something that I personally believe would enrich your faith.)