Meetings ‘n’ things

This morning Jerry called me at work and said, “I don’t need to watch TV. I just forgot what a habit it was for me to turn it on after they went to bed.” “Yeah,” I said, “and the girls feel the same way, so we get to go through it together.” “Right. That’s good,” he answered.

This week we’ll continue with privileges & responsibilities, and we’ll also be prepping for our first family meeting scheduled for this Saturday after breakfast. Family meetings are a big deal. I can see that with enough practice they can become smooth and easy, but getting to that point is going to take time.

There are four components to family meetings: appreciations; contributions; problem solving; and allowance. Eventually they happen in that order, but we start out with only the first and the last — to let the family ease into it.

When we first heard about the idea of appreciations, before actually taking Vicki’s class, we tried it a few times over breakfast. It was encouraging, and interesting, and awkward, and frustrating all mixed up together. We went around the table and everyone took a turn saying something they appreciate about each family member. The girls felt embarrassed and on the spot and sometimes repeated themselves or couldn’t think of anything and then Jerry and I sort of panicked and started saying things like, “Come on, you have to think of something, that’s not nice to just not say anything about so-and-so,” and blah, blah, blah.

Then we took the class and understood the importance of all the stuff that comes before family meetings — the foundation work, so to speak. So we stopped … until now. And when this week rolled around I suggested we use an appreciations board to help everyone remember their list of things to say. Everyone liked the idea. So off to Staples I went (while I was at it I asked Fenner and Ellen to pick out a journal to use for meeting notes).

Since they had been exposed to this concept before, the board started to fill up pretty fast:

Appreciations Board

Ellen wrote all hers out right away and then followed me around for a few minutes saying, “Mom, do your appreciations! … C’mon, mom! Whenryagonnadoem?” Meanwhile, I think Charlotte’s attempting to get by with an all-in-one. So far she has: “I appreciate my family because they love me.” It’s a good start. We’ll help her expand on that.

Mostly, though, the girls are all buzzing about the upcoming allowance. After appreciations we’ll be giving them each the same number of dollars as their age. They are very excited. We’re excited too. Everything is feeling very much on track!

ps Today’s P&R highlights: “Mom, is June 1st the first day of summer?” asked Fenner. Ellen interrupted, “No, that’s not the first day … Mom, I have a question.” “Ellen! I was asking mom!” “Ok, mom, Fenner has a dumb question.” I looked at Ellen and said, “Hmm. Respectful, or not?” She smiled and mumbled, “Not. … I forgot we started that today.” “That’s ok. I’ll just add an extra day of practice for you,” I said. “Mom, but if we have different times, how do you keep track?” “Oh, right over here on the chart, I have stickers. This one is your date, this one has Charlotte’s date, and this one has Fenner’s.” “Oh.” Then she watched as I put a new sticker up with her new date:


After school, I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car. I went inside and Ellen and Charlotte were still in the car. Standing in the kitchen, I could hear Charlotte yelling something. And then Ellen’s voice, “If mom and dad hear you, Charlotte …” I didn’t catch the rest. Soon after, Ellen came in, looking very upset. Charlotte came next. “Hi Mom!” she said. “Hi Charlotte. I could hear you yelling all the way from the car. So I’ll add another day for you to practice not yelling at other people.” She looked at the floor. “Okaay,” she said. A few minutes later she added, “Mom, I forgot everything you said in that talk.” “Hmm. Ok, well let’s make a time to sit down together and you can ask me questions about that.” And, I thought to myself, I’ll ask her what she thinks she could do instead of yelling.

Just then I heard Jerry’s voice. “Honey? I need your advice about something.” “Ok!” We walked outside to talk. “Ellen told me that Charlotte yelled at her and then locked the car doors to keep her from getting out. Is that respectful?” “No,” I said. “Ok so do we talk to her about that?” “I heard her yelling at Ellen and I told her I was adding an extra day for her to practice not yelling.” “Oh … alright.” “But, did Ellen tell on Charlotte?” I asked.  “Well, no, I asked her what was wrong and then she told me. I don’t think she would have said anything if I hadn’t asked her … In fact, I said to her, ‘Now, you can’t tattle on Charlotte.’ And then she got even more upset. She said, ‘Well dad, you asked me to tell you!'” “Ok … so I won’t start her over. And when you feel yourself wanting to remind or direct, remember to keep it zipped.” He smiled and nodded.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 9: Family Meetings

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