Weekly Message: 2/9/2018

Hello Marvista Families!

This week I would like to share with you an idea to help your family communicate better, bond you together and have some fun as well. Introducing the weekly family meeting! While the idea of having another meeting in your life may initially cause you to roll your eyes and sigh, I encourage you to think this through with me. As the school counselor, I often talk with students who don’t feel their parents and families understand them or make the time to listen to them. This can be especially hard with busy schedules and/or large families, and I’m sure is not intentional. Family meetings provide the opportunity to meet that need. Here is a sample agenda:

Everyone has opportunity to share something important to them that happened in the last week. (I find it helps to have a “talking stick” or object so it’s clear whose turn it is to speak.)
Parents share what’s happening this next week and future/holiday plans (being developmentally appropriate.)
Money stuff (There’s always money stuff. Kids need to learn about stewardship with money and often these conversations happen behind closed doors.)
Everyone has opportunity to share an answer to the sentence stem: “Something wonderful my family did for me this week was…”
Everyone has opportunity to share an answer to the sentence stem: “Something wonderful I did for my family this week was…”
Questions/comments about anything that anyone needs or wants to talk about.

Here are some other tips:

Keep it up-beat. Just talking together as a family is something that will make everyone involved feel better. It may feel awkward at first, and some members may choose not to share or join in at first. Give everyone time to get used to it, make it safe to be vulnerable and be sure to enjoy yourself as a/the family leader. Feel free to laugh out loud, you will set the atmosphere for the meeting.

Be creative with the meeting space. Find a place where everyone is comfortable. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different locations such as the back yard or even a park. If things are tense around the house you might want to have your weekly meeting at a fun place like a pizza parlor or fro-yo joint to help get things back on an even keel.

Give everyone a chance to speak and lead the meeting. This will help your kids feel validated and realize that what they think matters. Make a record of the decisions reached so you can refer back to agreements made if you need to. You can also post the minutes of the weekly meeting on the refrigerator so everyone can be reminded of plans for the week.

End each meeting with a fun experience. This will encourage everyone to attend and participate. Plan your experience as a group and remind the kids that if they don’t get to do what they want this time there will be another opportunity next week. Make sure that everyone can participate in the fun because leaving anyone out will cause hurt feelings.

Be available to help each other resolve any issues. Remember that this is a bonding tool designed to teach as well as inspire everyone that being close as a family is the best thing for all. Keep talking about things until everyone agrees or at least agrees that it’s okay to disagree. As hard as it may be though, resist offering ideas on how to fix others’ problems until you ask. The simple question of “can I share an idea?” honors your family members’ right to say “no thanks.” Sometimes all we want is our feelings to be validated.

I hope you all are able to set aside special time to connect with your family! It is one of the most important investments in our lives.

Warm Regards,
Andrew Ritsema
School Counselor