Monday, July 18, 2011

Another new tradition: Weekly Family Councils

Over the years I’ve found that we start up new traditions in our family fairly often. Some traditions will last a long time while others end quickly. Eleven years ago my father and I took my two oldest daughters on a train trip to Sacramento. The girls had so much fun that family train trips become a yearly adventure. Ten days ago Janine and I put up our eight man tent in the backyard. We took it down a little while later so the grass had a chance to recover. But the younger two children had so much fun that I think this may become a monthly tradition during many summers.

I recently instigated another new family tradition: Weekly Family Councils.

Janine and I try to be pretty open with our children about what is happening and why. And while we make the final decisions we welcome input. Normally this is pretty informal. Sometimes at dinner we’ll ask where they would like to go on the next vacation. Or sometimes before scripture study I’ll go over the calendar for the next couple weeks.

On June 26th we had our first formal Family Council. I prepared agendas. Each of us had our own copy. We sat down and had a regular meeting. So far each meeting tends to take about a half hour.  If the children get side tracked I may bring them back to the topics on the agenda.

As our children have gotten older there seems to be more directions that we scatter to, so I find it very helpful to review the calendar so everyone knows what the plans are and we can bring up potential conflicts.  The Family Council makes this a formal process.

We also have discussion items. For example my parents recently gave the family some money for all the birthdays this year. At each of our family councils so far we have brainstormed about how to spend the money. (Currently the children are pushing for a dog.)

We have also reviewed the expectations Janine and I have for computer entertainment this summer. Our daughters love to watch videos on Netflix and Hulu. Janine and I don’t mind an hour a day, but we expect them to make more productive use of their time.

Each week I ask who should we send "Thank you notes" to? I’m trying to get the children to be more aware of when people do nice things for us, and then to show our appreciation.

There have been a dozen other topics that we have talked about.
The meetings have been going well. They have been productive. I think Weekly Family Councils are a tradition that will be around for a long while.


Robin Phillips said...

We have used family councils irregularly, but each time I am amazed at the comraderie it builds, how it diffuses small annoyances, and the clarity on issues that comes out of it. I highly recommend having your own. Thanks for posting.

Henry Cate said...

The family councils seem to be going well. The children don't mind it. The biggest problem I'm struggling with is holding them regularly. We had targeted Sunday morning, but over the last month we've had several distractions arise.