In attendance: Mom, Dad, and our children (nicknames below)
Jay- our oldest son, 15
Kenny-our second oldest son, 13
Liza-our daughter, 11
Joey-our youngest son, 8
Mom: Well I’ve been looking for ways to bring our family closer and I’d really like to get some of your ideas in this, so I thought we could start to do some “family meetings”. Family meetings are to help us communicate more with each other. For example, we can share activities we have going on in our week or any issues that have come up during the past week.
Elizabeth (Liza): So we can only talk at family meetings?
Mom: No, we can talk whenever we want, but this is another way to help us communicate.
Liza: Oh, we’ve done this in school! We need a code word!
Mom: A code word? What's a code word (this certainly wasn't in the articles that I looked up...!)?
Liza: For when people are arguing. We need a code word to stop all arguing.
Joey: How about BACON?!
Kenny: Yeah, that’s a good code word. BACON….Mmmm.
Mom: Okay, BACON is our code word then. Now all the articles I looked at to plan our family meeting said to keep each section of the family meeting short, so let’s keep each section to five minutes. Why don’t we start with some ground rules for our meetings? Let’s do ground rules for five minutes.
Dad: Are you going to run the meeting, write down notes, AND be the timekeeper?
Dad: I think that’s going to be pretty hard to do. When we have meetings at work, we divide up the roles.
Mom: I think I can handle it all, thank you.
Mom: We’re not arguing.
Dad: I’d really like to be the writer.
Mom: We’re not arguing. (To Dad) Okay, you be the writer.
Kenny: I want to be the timekeeper.
Mom: Okay, you be the timekeeper. We have five minutes for each meeting item.
Jay: Who is the timekeeper?
Jay, Liza, Joey: I want to be the timekeeper!
Liza: Stop interrupting me!
Jay, Joey: I’m not interrupting you!
Ken: We need a talking stick.
Dad: What’s a talking stick?
Mom: A talking stick? (This also wasn't in any of the articles....).
Jay: A talking stick is when you pass a stick around and the only person who can talk is the one holding a stick.
Dad: We’re not arguing. You have to wait until we’re arguing to yell out BACON.
Joey: (Getting up and getting a big sauce spoon out of the drawer). Here is a talking spoon.
Mom: Okay, we’ve got a talking spoon.
Ken: Five minutes is up, Mom.
Dad (writing fast): Okay, let’s move on.
Mom: Well, we didn’t really talk about the meeting ground rules.
Ken: Five minutes is up. You said only five minutes for each section.
Mom: Okay, well I guess we move on to what we like about our family…positive talk.
Joey: Well, I like when we trade candy after Halloween.
Jay: I like how I don’t have to go to my swim meet today!
Kenny: That’s not about our family.
Jay: You don’t have the talking spoon.
Kenny: You look like a talking spoon.
Jay.: Well, you look like…
Liza: Well, I like it when we eat dinner together and talk about our day.
Mom: Okay, these are good items to put down.
Joey: I like how we open Christmas stockings one person at a time.
Kenny: Five minutes is up.
Mom: What? That was awfully quick.
Dad: What’s the next section?
Jay: Well, I’ve got a lot of issues.
Ken: You can say…
Liza: You don’t have the talking spoon.
Dad, Ken: Who?
Liza: Jay needs the talking spoon.
Jay: Okay, well, we need some ground rules.
Dad: Like for the meeting?
Liza: And I don’t like name-calling.
Jay: You’re interrupting. We need ground rules for family, too.
Kenny: Well, I would like peanut butter and bread separate in my lunch, so I can make my own sandwiches.
Kenny: The sandwich gets really soggy when you put the peanut butter and jelly on ahead of time.
Mom: Well, I think I could do that. I didn’t know you felt that way.
Jay: That’s not about the family.
Liza: And I would like individual cream cheeses for my bagels at lunch.
Liza: If Kenny gets individual peanut butters, then I want individual cream cheese.
Mom: Well… I…
Dad: We’re not arguing.
Jay.: And we need allowances.
Kenny: Time’s up!
Mom: What? That is way too fast.
Dad: Next section…
Mom: Okay, the next section is planning family together time. We really need to do it. We need to make a commitment to just do some activities together as a family.
Joey: I like it when the power goes out and we build forts and play board games.
Dad: (Writing quickly) Okay, so you like board games.
Joey: Yes—and building forts.
Dad: I would like to add a family afternoon of watching football.
Joey: And I would like to try tennis.
Jay: It’s snowing outside!
Liza: Well, it’s not usually snowing outside.
Kenny: Time is running out! Why don’t we each get to pick one family thing each week?
Liza: Yeah. I like when we go bowling.
Mom: Okay, well…
Kenny: Time’s up!
Mom: Wow! That clock is fast! So let’s decide on an activity to do today and on what to talk about next time.
Kenny: Carving pumpkins.
Liza and Joey: And painting them.
Kenny: And I want to be Charlie Sheen for Halloween.
Jay: You cannot be Charlie Sheen. Tell him he can’t be Charlie Sheen!
Dad: You cannot be Charlie Sheen…
Jay: You can’t be Charlie Sheen because I’M being Charlie Sheen for Halloween!
Liza: You don’t have the talking spoon.
Dad: Neither one of you is going to be Charlie Sheen!
Joey: BACON!! (All get quiet).
Mom: (Amazed). Okay, good job quieting down, guys. How about we plan to carve pumpkins at 3:00?
Dad: Sounds good. What to discuss at the next family meeting?
Mom: How about ground rules?
Joey: And how to build forts.
Mom: Okay, and forts.
Dad: (To Mom) And if anyone is going to be Charlie Sheen for Halloween, it’s going to be… (Laughs)
Mom: Just don’t even say it. (Laughs).
Well, we can only go "up" from here, as the cliche states! If you would like to try having your own family meeting, we found many helpful resources online at familyeducation.com, and parentsuccess.com.