It’s a place for family debates | Faithful Living

This week I enjoyed a cup of coffee with a friend parenting young children and she asked how I built a solid sense of family with kids who have strong, differing personalities and opinions.

I told her that my husband and I instituted the family meeting and when I look back on all of our gatherings I recall a whole lot of talking and compromising. Opposing views were shared and problems discussed. At times there was lively debate and frustration. Not every moment in a family meeting feels good as you work through the challenges of family life. And as our kids grew older --- when school, sports and hobbies scattered us --- our meetings often happened with little formality; they were held whenever and wherever we could talk.

Those venues were often diverse. Some were held in the car as we traveled. Some at the local Starbucks. Some as we picked up mussels off the beach, fixed dinner, pulled weeds in the garden, or drove to athletic events. Whatever the occasion, it was always our goal to find ways to bring cohesiveness to a family made up of strong, independent players. Whether we were text messaging or instant messaging, cooking or cleaning, watching movies or walking the beach, my husband and I hauled the kids along as we could and brought earnest conversation into the occasion to remind them that maintaining a sense of God’s purpose for family life is essential. No matter the frustration, we reminded them, we were a group of individuals whom God placed in each other’s lives with good reason.

You must spend time together and talk to make it work.

It was also our intention that our kids come to understand the logistical challenges parents face so in their presence we planned who needed to go where, what preparations needed to be made, and why. To this day we continue to talk to our son, now in college, about what must be done to pay for his tuition and living expenses as well as our own. We continue to talk about why hard work, follow through, mutual consideration and patience are worthy endeavors.

Most of us, after a long day, flee from the thought of another meeting. But providing a forum for the family to talk (or debate!) in freedom is worth the effort. It reminds us that there is rhyme and reason to family life. That sacrifice is frequently part of the process. That diversity makes life interesting.

Getting together can be fun. You can share a story from your experiences or offer a shoulder or hug each other when needed. You can incorporate a homework assignment, a prayer, a walk and a snack if the fancy strikes you.

Today my children are young adults and have scattered. But post a comment or photo about home on Facebook and I can count on the kids to weigh in. Their humor and outlooks both amaze and delight me. Do these moments become a family meeting of sorts? You bet they do. How sweet it is.


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