We've been working hard lately, Chad and I, to figure out how to be better parents. We've been reading like crazy, praying like crazy, anything to keep us from going crazy because of our kids. We've found some pretty great solutions that we think long term will help a lot.
For one thing, after hearing this podcast by "Parenting on Purpose," we realized our conversations with our kids are often on the surface level. We want to get into deep communication where trust and intimacy happen, but we didn't know exactly how.
One afternoon I was praying, asking God to give us help. Grace has been so angry for so long. We were getting good at the right way to discipline but we were realizing that we weren't touching our kids hearts, it was rules, consequences and lots of frustration on all our parts. And I swear, as I was praying, I heard "family meeting." I have read about family meetings once or twice before, and I really thought it was dumb- they seemed overly formal, boring and unnecessary. But I Googled it and found this TedTalk that convinced me otherwise.
I put together this family meeting worksheet and I also made a Family Cube. We have a stack of them in a three-ring binder and now the kids look forward to Sunday afternoons for our family meeting. We have good snacks to help keep the kids interested and then we do something fun as a family after as a reward.
The kids love the cube. They both take giving compliments VERY seriously and they positively color and bloom when we tell them the good things about them. I don't think we often take time to tell our kids why we think they're wonderful, and it's a really nice time to do it.
The first week was astounding. Grace said her goal for the week was "obeying better." We almost fell out of our chairs. She said she realized she felt proud when she obeyed. And through the week we reminded her of her goal, and when she obeyed I asked her how it felt. "I feel proud of myself," and I said that I was proud of her too. She worked hard to get her Chucky E Cheese tokens (we use these as rewards) and it was pretty amazing.
I think generally Luke is a little young for the Family Meeting but we are working hard to include him. We're thinking of giving him coloring to do and maybe doling out M&Ms when he participates to keep him interested.
I really like these meetings because especially for Grace I feel it helps her feel like she is part of the team, instead of being just told over and over what to do. She gets to pick what goal to focus on for the week. And we've noticed she really takes her goal seriously.
I'd love to hear how this might work for your family and if you have suggestions on how to tweak it, we'd love to hear it!