When I was growing up my parents periodically announced the need for a "Family Meeting". My earliest memory of a family meeting was when my parents told us that our dog, Brandi, the dachshund, had died. I remember passing around rolls of toilet paper as we sat on the floor of our living-room. I was in kindergarten.
As we got older, the meetings were usually related to not putting our bikes away and hence they were left out in the rain, leaving books outside overnight, poor grades on report cards and the need for a tutor (this was in direct association with me--my sister is the one who is good at math and science), messy rooms and a new form of bribery related to actually putting one's shoes and coats away.
And now I'm a mom. And I get to call the Family Meetings.
-Walter, we need to have a Family Meeting tonight.
-Should I be the secretary and take down the minutes? Do you have a bullet-point agenda?
-Hardy-har-har. You are hilarious.
He makes me sound so 'Type A'. The state of my desk would quickly make you realize that I am not. I'm more of a messy, unstructured, creative, free-spirit, type A--if such a juxtaposition exists.
My mom couldn't stop laughing yesterday as I recounted our latest Kohn Family Meeting. Isabella has been suffering from a case of the 'mean grumps' and we needed to talk it out.
When I was taking classes to earn a Professional Writing Certificate, I learned that if you are writing a business letter in which negative information must be shared, you should begin with a positive and end with a positive. I implement this strategy during our Family Meetings. It starts out something like this:
-Isabella, we love you very much (but you're being a pain in the butt and we're looking into boarding schools--just kidding, we don't actually say that) and you've done so many wonderful things lately (insert example(s)). Right now we are concerned that you are feeling emotions you might need to talk about (this is where Walter looks at me like I'm a crazy person and gives me the eyes that say I just need to spit it out). We feel like you've been disrespectful with us lately and we want to help you make a change. (This is also the point where Isabella crashes her head into the pillow and starts sobbing: Why are you guys being so MEAN to me!? You just say everything that I do WRONG and you think I'm a HORRIBLE person!)
Whoa! Back. It. Up. What just happened?
Rein it back in. Gently discuss the negative, finish with the positive, wrap it in a bow and give hugs all around. Wipe brow--roll eyes with husband and eat some chocolate.
Oh, and here's an example of a "meeting" between Walter and I:
-Sierra, you just need to understand that the dishwasher does not remove chunks of peanut butter from the knives.
-It will eventually.
-No, it won't.
-Well then, you just need to engineer up a dishwasher that has little scrubbers that are released inside, like minions, and then we won't have anything to worry about!
-Actually, I need to install sensors that send me a message every time you load something with chunks or put too much soap in the dispensers.
-Whatever. My idea is better.
What do Family Meetings look like at your house?