30 March 2011

weekly family meetings

I'm not gonna lie, I partially got this idea from the Mormons and their Family Home Evenings.  The idea was originally planted in my head from my studies in Child and Family Development,   Every week, B and I have a "weekly family meeting," and I get asked about it often.

So the first question is why is it called a "family" meeting, when it's just the two of us?  Well, in my opinion, I've always disliked the phrase "starting a family" in reference to having children.  I believe that your family started the moment you exchanged vows.  That's not to say that people don't start a family before legally getting married, but once you jump the broom, even without kids, you've made a new family.

Semantics aside, our weekly family meeting has a certain agenda but it is flexible and will definitely change as time goes on and we add little ones into the mix.  I think having the kids grow up in a household that does this once a week will make it a lot less awkward later when we need get through the big issues together.  It will just be something they've always done and don't question (here's to hoping!).  We're Catholic, so I infuse the Bible and religious practices into our meetings, but this practice does not need to be only for the religious.  (Instead of Bible stories, maybe you can read a book together?)

Here is our agenda (you can choose to open and close in prayer if inclined):
  1. Weekly highs and lows.  Each person shares their favorite part about last week and also their not-so-favorite part of last week.  Oddly, this is is the only part of the meeting that B does not like and often refuses to participate in (see, it's like already having a child!).
  2. Schedules.  When is little Johnny's soccer game again?  Do you want to go to trivia night?  When is that science project due?  Have the family calendar in front of you during this so you don't forget everything.
  3. Issues/Conflict Resolution.  We use the "talking stick" method--basically, I just grab some object like a marker and only the person holding it is allowed to talk.  We try to use "I-statements" to air grievances and settle arguments.  There are a lot of books and resources out there on conflict resolution, so feel free to try some methods out until you find one that works (and don't be afraid to change methods based on development).  Once we have older kids/teens, this might have to move toward the end of the agenda so that the flaring tempers won't interfere with the rest of the meeting.
  4. Bible Study/Lesson.  For now, B and I just pick a book in the Bible and read it aloud for about 15-20 minutes and then talk about it.  We did the entire book of Ruth in one night, but we've now been doing the Book of Job for about a month, reading it by sections.  For kids, there are a lot of Sunday-school references on the internet that you can pull from.  Adding an activity like coloring or a craft obviously requires more planning, but can be very helpful for children.  If you want to pick a verse of the week to memorize, this is a great time to introduce it.
  5. Rosary and/or Prayers and Praises.  I won't lie; we generally don't do the rosary unless we have a short Bible reading (usually the end of a book).  I like doing it though, and I want my kids to be comfortable with it.  (I can't even imagine saying a rosary with my parents, and I wasn't comfortable leading one by myself until just a few years ago.)  Also, now is a good time, if you don't do this at dinner prayer, to give praises for all that you are thankful for, and to pray for those in need.
  6. Words of Affirmation.  Each family member says something nice to each other family member.  Can just be a compliment, or it can be thanking them for something they have done recently.  I love this.
  7. Treats!  Enough said.
You may notice that many of these can be incorporated into your family dinners.  Even though B and I eat dinner together every night, I do like to take the extra time to just focus on these things uninterrupted, especially the religious part.  Plus, I think having it scheduled keeps us more accountable.

Does your family have a weekly meeting ritual?


  1. We used to do something similar to your weekly highs and lows when I was younger. We'd go around the table, youngest to oldest, and each tell something good, something bad, and something we learned that day. After everyone had listed their three items, my older brother and I would take turns recapping what each person said. Not only did it give us family discussion pertinent to what we'd done that day, but it taught us kids to really listen to people when they were speaking and pay attention rather than focusing on what WE wanted to say when it was our turn!

  2. I love this concept, but it definitely doesn't work for us. Hubby is not a sit-down, talk-about-your-feelings kind of guy. We have some talks at night, lying next to each other in bed, but fortunately, we see so eye-to-eye that we don't argue much.

  3. Kate, I LOVE what your family did! I'll file that in the back of my head for later use.

    NHGirl, My husband HATES talking about his feelings too (that's why he won't do #1 and it's probably a Navy or sub thing). The meeting is mostly me talking for now, but it's a start :) The bulk of it is just reading aloud anyway; no feelings required. A lot of times we don't have issues to resolve either--glad to hear you're that way too!

  4. I definitely want to start when G returns from sea! We've always had informal tings, but I would like to make them more focused so when we need to talk, even just as man and wife, it's not so "we need to talk..." and he doesn't feel like he's in trouble!