Archive for the ‘20-somethings’ category

The long-term benefits of family meetings

February 20, 2012
Here Ian is shovelling snow, an excellent activity for a 20-something who lives at home. Adults who live at home can be expected to pitch in. Use family meetings to stay in contact, set expectations and encourage each other. Mutual respect is key to discipline for teens, tweens, school age and toddlers

Ian shovels snow -- when we had some last winter -- during a long visit. Family meetings are key to setting expectations and open communication with "kids" of all ages.

My son Ian, 27, left, has no health insurance. We’ve had several discussions about the merits of health insurance.

During his last visit home, he said calmly, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about health insurance any more. I have decided to pay later instead of paying before.”

I listened. I didn’t like it. I heeded his boundary, set respectfully. I was grateful that he told me, instead of calling his girlfriend and complaining, “My mother won’t get off my case about health insurance! I can’t wait to leave.”

I credit our tradition of family meetings for Ian’s ability to respectfully communicate his feelings to me.

When I ask parents to list the attributes they want their children to develop, the list usually looks like this. Happy. Have good friends. Good social skills. Have a good job. Good relationship with me. Confident, capable. Don’t abuse substances. Find work they enjoy. Good self-esteem. Live independently and not in my basement.

I guarantee that family meetings will provide the foundation for every one of those attributes. Family meetings are the most effective discipline method  for toddlers, school-age, tweens, teens and young adults.

Notice I didn’t say “speediest” or “easiest.” Discipline means to teach. Family  meetings teach children the skills, attitudes and attributes we want them to absorb and use for life.

Read the attached notes from a first Family meeting held by a single parent and her two daughters, ages 13 and 10. Their agenda is on the second page. They held the meeting at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning, the time the 13-year-old agreed to in advance.

Here’s what worked about their first family meeting.

  • Mom asked what time they wanted to hold the family meeting, and then followed through even though the 13-year-old was lying on the couch during the meeting. (Teens can’t been seen as too cooperative.)
  • Mom posted the agenda in advance, which gave the kids time to post items, such as “Star Wars symposium outfit for Johanna.”
  • Johanna also posted, “Spend more activities together.”
  • Mom didn’t overload the agenda with problems and demands. She started small.
  • Mom followed the format. Someone took notes to keep for posterity, (humor later on), and to record their agreements. They had a snack and family fun.

Two big wins: Johanna posted two items; the 13-year-old showed up. It’s easier to set up the habit of family meetings when kids are 3 to 12 years old.

Kids will want to come to the meetings when they have a turn to run the meetings, there’s a snack, and family fun. Fun is like a magnet for kids, and long-term family glue.

You can do it. Family meetings reap huge rewards forever. They are worth the time and effort. See my tip sheet on how to get started and read about them in my book “Raising Able.”

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The most you can spend on anyone is time

May 9, 2011
Thinking about others is a big part of motherhood. Mother's Day is a critical day to think about MOM and do something special for her. When our children do not think of us, we mothers can feel hurt and not understand what we did wrong to nurture such a self-centered individual.

Celebrating Mother's Day with two of my four "children," now 28 and 30.

This is a phone call I had with a friend yesterday. The names have been changed.

Mike: What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

Me: Casey and Noah are coming over. We’re making pizza together, a family tradition. What are you doing?

Mike: Kate and I may end up going out to dinner alone, unless Junior wants to come with us.

Me: How old is Junior?

Mike: He’s 23 and still lives at home. Junior always complains that he doesn’t have any money. He probably won’t get Kate anything, or make her anything for Mother’s Day.

Me: I always like certificates — like for cleaning my car, building things, or artwork.

Mike: I’ve always told Junior that we like things that he makes.

Me: Huh. (Thinking how easy and low-cost it is to make a home-made Mother’s Day Card or pick a few flowers from the yard.) Where are you going out to dinner?

Mike: We’d like to go to an Indian restaurant. But if Junior comes, we’ll choose somewhere else. He is not an adventuresome eater.

Me: (speechless. Hard to respond tactfully. It’s Mother’s Day. He’s getting a free meal.)   There must be something on the menu of an Indian restaurant that he would or could eat.

Mike: No, no. His sister is more adventuresome. He’s not. We’ll go somewhere else. IF he comes with us.

Me: Okay. Enjoy. Bye.

Mike is puzzled that his son is so self-centered. I wonder if Junior has ever done a chore for the common good without getting paid for it. This is one of many ways to teach children teamwork and to get them outside of ME-ME-ME.

Children and most people are naturally about ME-ME-ME. Which is why parents’ job is so important. We socialize human beings for life in the world with others. Our teachings take a long time to install, and last a lifetime, even beyond–to the next generation.

Mike could have said to Junior, “It’s Mother’s Day and your mother wants Indian food. We would love it if you would join us. I’m sure
you can find something on the menu to eat. If you don’t want to come, your mother will be disappointed. I hope you come. We’re leaving at 5:30 pm.”

Fathers can model how to put Mom first. Junior likely gets to choose the restaurant he likes on his birthday, and I bet Mom goes along with whatever he wants. Junior can do the same on Mother’s Day. It’s a first step to teach him consideration, a hard lesson to learn, especially at age 23.