Family meeting continued: Contributions

Hello! We’re back from vacation and cruising along with our summer. Things are going really well, and we’re on the verge of adding contributions to our next family meeting. Jerry’s been waiting a long time for this part. We’ve both been wanting the girls to pitch in more around the house, but Jerry also has a lingering button about people who don’t clean up after themselves. There’s something he believes about those people that sets him off easily. When that button gets pushed he tends to start barking out orders with an annoyed tone and it usually goes downhill from there.

So it’s wonderful to be implementing a new strategy for motivating and encouraging the girls to help out more that’s designed to enhance our relationship with them, instead of damaging it.

The amazing thing is, I’ve already seen significant signs of progress toward this goal. With Charlotte reinventing herself and feeling more empowered, she also volunteers more to help. The other day, she took the initiative to empty the dishwasher without my saying anything! When I noticed her doing it and got the camera out, she started posing for me: “Mom, take a picture of me putting this away!” Wow.


And lately she’s been insisting on being the one to bring the empty can back down to the garage after the garbage is picked up.


And then Ellen actually asked me to teach her how to clean the cat box. So we are definitely headed in the right direction!

Before our last family meeting, Jerry and I talked things over: “So I think we should just introduce the idea of contributions this week, and talk about why it’s important to contribute to the success of the family,” I said. “What do you mean why?” asked Jerry. “Well, why it matters and how it makes a difference.” “But isn’t it just because we have a certain standard for our home and they need to respect that?” “Uh … I think we need to me more specific and concrete. I don’t think lecturing them about our standards would be very effective. We need to point out the concrete benefits, like that a clean house looks and feels and smells better, and it’s easier to find things, and mom and dad will have more time to play.” “Yeah, ok,” he said. “Actually, I think I’ll ask them what they think the benefits are. Because if this comes across as us lecturing and giving orders, then we’re going to lose them.” “Yeah, you’re right. Sounds good.”

So we let them give the answers, and here’s what they came up with on their own:

  • “It’s important so we’ll learn all the skills we need before we leave the house.”
  • “Our house will be cleaner.”
  • “We’ll have more time for fun together.”

Then we let them give us their ideas for what needs to be done and what jobs they’d like to do. I took notes and said we would give out jobs at our next meeting and that we’d need more ideas from them on the best system for that.

Onward and upward!

ps Last night Fenner became upset when she couldn’t find her riding helmet that she needed for camp today. “Mom, can I please get a new one?” “Yes! How much money do you need to save up?” “No! I mean will you get it for me?” “No,” I said gently. “When you lose something it’s your responsibility to replace it.” She scowled at me and stomped away. Later, when I went to bed I found this note on my dresser:


I actually laughed out loud when I read it and found myself feeling grateful that she feels free to express exactly what she thinks to me. It also showed me how strongly she’s feeling the natural consequence of losing her helmet, and that there’s certainly no need to add any scolding or lectures on top of that.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Contributions

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