Thursday, April 30, 2009

Family Meetings

I came home from work today to a house full of cranky people. Even Mango was giving me his talk-to-the-tail routine. Somewhere between the pickup line at school and getting dinner on the table, something had obviously gone very, very wrong with my family. My kids greeted me with a low-talking hi mom. My husband was darting around in the kitchen and avoiding eye contact at all costs. Everyone’s panties were in a twist. As I stood in the kitchen assessing the moods in the room, I knew exactly what we needed — a magically restorative family meeting. We are BIG on family meetings. They aren’t always pretty but they always end well. It's how we make our decisions, hand down verdicts, diffuse attitude bombs and name new pets. Family meetings have seen us through the good, the bad and the sticky. It’s a chance for everyone to have even footing, no matter who was right and who was wrong (or wronged in some cases). It gives each person a chance to be heard fairly. We always sit during our family meetings. It helps us to stop — literally — calming us and helping us formulate our arguments and positions on the matter at hand. Inherently one person takes on the role of the peacemaking facilitator, while the accused and accuser square off. The tension melts away a little with each word that's spoken. Until we end up completely seeing the other persons point of view. Apologies, realizations and forgiveness often make an appearance. Today’s family meeting was a familiar topic. Someone said something that upset someone else: resentment stewed, tempers flared, kids fought. After about 15 minutes of reminding my daughter not to interrupt while others shared their side of the story and reminding my husband to rephrase what he’d said that set her off in the first place; we reached an accord. They both said what they really meant to say to begin with. They took ownership for their words and really thought about how their harsh tones had hurt the other person. They took turns saying “I’m sorry.” A few tears were shed, loving smiles and hugs were shared. It's a good practice that I highly recommend. It works for us. And all is right with our world, for today.


  1. great post...i think every family could benefit from a peacemaking facilitator =) thanks for sharing this wisdom.

  2. I was so glad to read that all was resolved. You are teaching yor children great peacemaking skills!


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