Eps 313: Solo Show- The Basics of Family Meetings

Episode 313

This week’s episode is a SOLO show!


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Takeaways from the show

  • Getting into family meetings
  • Compliments and appreciations
  • Problem solving
  • Encouraging teens to give suggestions
  • Creating a win-win
  • Defining solutions
  • Keeping expectations while also being flexible
  • Family fun
  • Commitment to family meetings
  • Building connection with your kids
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Casey O'Roarty 0:03
Music. Hey, my friends, welcome back to joyful courage, a conscious parenting podcast where we tease apart the challenges and nuances of parenting through the adolescent years. I am your host. Casey o'rourdy, positive discipline trainer and adolescent lead at sproutable, a company that represents not only the growth of children, but also the journey and evolution that we go through as parents. I'm walking the path right next to you as I navigate the teen years with my own two kids here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Joyful courage is all about grit, growth on the parenting journey, relationships that provide a sense of connection and meaning and influential tools that support everyone in being their best selves. Today is a solo show. Listen for how grit shows up. Thank you for being here. We are over 1 million downloads and 300 plus episodes strong, and you listener, you have taken us to the top 1% of podcasts worldwide. I so appreciate each and every one of you enjoy the show.

Hi everyone. I am so happy to be coming at you solo this week, before we get started, can we take a minute and appreciate last week's show? Did you listen Dr Mona talking about adolescent skincare? I got so much feedback about this conversation. Acne is such a nightmare for kids who are already feeling overly insecure about how they look. Throw in some pimples, and the mix is pretty tragic, right? I was a little bit like, gosh, do my listeners want to hear about acne or more parenting tools. But you know what, if you have a teenager living in your home, the change is real, and probably the zits are too. So I loved that Dr Mona talked about ingredients to look for in skincare products, and how to approach the conversation with our teens, because it can feel really slippery, right? To bring it up, if our kids are already a little bit, I don't know, on the emotional edge, and we point out like, Hey, I'm noticing you got a lot of pimples that might not really land the way that we want it to land. So I really appreciated everything that Dr Mona shared. If you haven't listened yet, I encourage you to do so. That was episode 312, from last week. This week, I'm not going to talk about acne this week, I am going to talk about family meetings. Ding, ding, ding, family meetings that so many of you have asked me to put something out about family meetings, lots of you know that this is one of the most powerful positive discipline parenting tools that there is for us, for me and my experience of parenting with positive discipline, family meetings is the glue that holds everything together. If you read my emails, thank you for those of you who do, if you don't yet get my emails, you can go to besproutable.com/teens, and sign up for emails. If you read my emails, you would have read a story I told a couple weeks ago about my son and a particular family meeting we had where we were problem solving around chores and contributions and btw, we always are problem solving around chores, at family meetings, chores, contributions. We have yet to land in a place where it's smooth sailing. And yeah, I mean, we got there a few times when they were younger, but the teen years, it seems to have all kind of fallen apart. So it's something that we talk about a lot at family meetings weekly, right? Like I said in the email, I'm seeing kind of a shift in my daughter, the 19 year old, and the whole idea that we all live here together, we all get to be in contribution, take care of your stuff, right? Especially in the community space she's that's landing for her, she sees she is seeing herself more as an equal partner the 16 year old, not quite yet. When we do family meetings, we follow the positive discipline format. So it's a specific format of compliments and appreciations followed by problem solving in our family, we follow that with looking at the calendar and what's coming up, and then we always finish with planning something fun to do together. This has been what we have done since the kids were little, little, little. I started family meetings as soon as I. Learned about them. So that was like, what, 2007 so 2007 Rowan was like four, maybe going on five. And, I mean, positive discipline did a lot for my relationship with Rowan. We were definitely in the cycle where she was mean to her little brother and I was mean to her, and we just kind of kept cycling through that. When I stepped out of that power struggle and that revenge cycle and started really focusing on quality time with her, it made a huge difference. And I was super excited about family meetings. I knew that this was the thing that we had to do as a family, right? So I gathered everyone around the table, and I sat us down, and Rowan was, like, five, and I think Ian was two or three, and it was a disaster. It was a disaster. I was on Rowan's case the whole time. Yes, she was five, and I, I mean, to the point where Ben had to point out, like, oh, are family meetings just where you're gonna tell Rowan what she's doing wrong, which, of course, triggered me, and I was like, How dare you? Well, I didn't say that, but I'm sure that I was super uncomfortable. I'm sure that I recognized my mistake, but still felt awkward enough inside of it that I was a little bit defiant. And anyway, family meetings fell apart. And for a year, Rowan refused to do family meetings. She wouldn't do it. Ben was not on board. I had to just relax and wait. And the thing about it was in that first go around and in it early in my positive discipline journey, I continued to show up as the same controlling, Blamey mom, and was working as best I could towards understanding that Really what I needed most was to shift into the mindset of positive discipline. I was still showing up as controlling and I was getting the same results. So, you know that was the big learning for me, was to remember that this space is an awesome opportunity for me to grow into practice. Right? The lesson really was, family meetings are a place for collaboration and connection, and not another venue for parents to tell their kids where they're missing the mark. So I got it together. I got it together, and eventually we came back to family meetings, and we've been doing them somewhat regularly ever since. So when we're really into it, they happen weekly. You know, especially, I'd say when the kids were in school age and middle school, they were happening pretty much weekly. These days, it's once or twice a month, and I wish it was more, but we're busy, and honestly, some weeks I just not really, I don't have the energy to bring everybody to the table. I'll be honest with that. But when I do, when I do, it makes a huge difference. We're all on the same page. We know what to expect. We know what's going on, everything feels smoother. And like I said, all these years of doing family meeting, it's been the same format. And so this podcast, what I'm going to do is I'm going to break that format down for all of you, and even as I say that, know that at the end of the show, I'm going to give you a gift to support you with bringing this either into your family or back into your family if you've gotten out of the process.

So the format is this, a lot of people you know family meetings are kind of like, Oh, it's a crisis intervention situation, and if something's going down, you gotta call a family meeting to address it. That is not what family meetings are about. In the positive discipline world, family meetings are an ongoing space for connection and collaboration, right? So we always start with compliments and appreciations, and this is how it works. Each person in the family has the opportunity to compliment or appreciate something about each person in the family, including themselves. So when we sit down, whoever goes first goes first, if it's me, I give Ben a compliment, I give Rowan a compliment, I give Ian a compliment, and then I compliment myself, right? I love compliment circles. I love them. And you know, depending on the day, depending on the meeting, some compliments are really like, oh, straight. The Heart. Some of them like, Thanks for making dinner. Not so much, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Trust the process and it takes practice, especially when it isn't something that you do very much. One family that I know of has started family meetings with their teens, and because of the dynamic between the siblings, the parents have the kids pick a parent to compliment and then also to compliment themselves, so they kind of skip the siblings complimenting each other right now, because the relationship is just not in a place where that is is able to happen, right I know of another family that I worked with, a big family, four kids, two parents, they used popsicle sticks with names to decide who would compliment who, because the family was so big and the compliment circles took so much time. You get to do what works for you. You get to do what works for you, especially at the start. But I would also say move towards that idea that eventually everybody's going to compliment each other at the table, including themselves, right? This is about creating a sense of belonging and connection, moving towards again, everyone complimenting everyone else, but taking the steps you need to get there. This is a really powerful way to start the process right? Sometimes, sometimes, if I'm feeling the energy isn't there for a compliment circle, I'll suggest that the family just states one thing they're grateful for about our family, and we move on right? Like the big piece about family meeting and a place where I continue to grow in my own personal practice is noticing when rigidity sets in, because for me, I know how I want this to look. I know how I want it to go, and I get real prickly when it doesn't go that way. And so my work is, oh, look, I'm getting prickly. I'm going to feel my feet on the floor, I'm going to open my chest, I'm going to soften my belly, I'm going to be with whatever shows up for my family right now, and trust that this is going to be a useful time spent together, right so noticing your rigidity, if you're like me, and a little bit controlling, which I know I'm not the only one. So hi, I see you. So after we do compliments and appreciations, we move into problem solving, and initially, you know when we first started family meetings, and this is something you can remind your kids of as well. We use an agenda. So there's in our house, it used to be a binder that held all of our family meeting agendas. And by agenda, like, what I do is I write date, I write compliments, because for a while the kids would be like, well, you went first last time, or I went first this time. And so we started keeping track of who went first so that it just wasn't an argument. So compliments, problem solving, plan something fun. So all those things were on our agenda, and it was always right there, available during the week. If kids had challenges or problems they wanted to bring to the family meeting, they could write it into the notebook, into the agenda. Now we have a clipboard with paper on it that we use as our agenda, and it is hanging near the near the place where we eat and do our meetings, although, God, the last time somebody brought a problem to the family meeting other than me and chores, you know, it's been a while since then, but problem solving so anyone can bring a problem to the family meeting and get support, like I said, transparency, it's typically me, and the process of problem solving is sharing what the problem is and then brainstorming solutions, right? Brainstorming solutions. And that means everybody gets a chance to speak. Some families use talking sticks, or, you know, talking object that goes around the circle. And if you haven't, you get to speak. And the idea is to collect a bunch of suggestions for what would be useful for solving the problems. And all the ideas get written down. All the ideas get written down. It's important to encourage your teens to give suggestions First, right? So what's, what do you think a solution would be, what would be helpful to you? Sometimes you'll find reluctance, shocker. I know that's super surprising when we're talking about teenagers, so this might be an indicator that you need to clarify what the actual problem is, how your teen is experiencing it, how you're experiencing it, getting clear on what is getting in the way and go from there. This is about creating a win win solution. It's not about coercing your kids to your point of view or getting the solution that you think is best. We're working together, right? And there's so many life skills that happen inside of this process. There's the brainstorm. Performing. There's the negotiating, there's the offer counter offering. There's, you know, the being solution minded. So many, so many powerful life skills being practiced inside of this container, right? Creating a win. Win. Now, when we're talking about solutions to problems, and like, for example, the problem, like I said, that I typically bring is, Hey guys, chores and contributions isn't really working out. If I'm not on top of you, they don't get done, right? So what's going to be useful for you? Now I will tell you. The first thing my kids suggest is, just tell us what to do, Mom, just tell us what to do. Mom and I respond with, I don't want that job. I don't want that job. The goal is for you to be in contribution, for us to be in partnership in this space that we share together. So what's going to help you do that? I shared in my email that we were talking about it again, and Ian mentioned Mom, it's not that I don't want to do chores, it's just that I literally never think about them. It never crosses my mind to do chores. And you know that was important for me to hear right? I knew that, but I needed to hear it again. Him and his reluctance to help out isn't necessarily a character flaw or something he's doing to me. It's really just that it's not on his radar. It's not important to him yet, right? And so I am going to need to do a little bit more overseeing, so we come up with some ideas around solutions. We have a whiteboard that we've used different things. But after you've created this list of potential solutions, you get to put it up against what solutions actually are. So solutions are related to the problem, respectful, reasonable and helpful, right? You use this definition of solutions to eliminate any suggestions that aren't that don't qualify, that aren't useful, right? So, oh well, one solution is just not having us do chores. Yeah, that's a solution, but it's not really respectful of me, the mom. It's not respectful of our space. So it's not really, it doesn't fit inside of this solution, right? So we get to go through the brainstorm, decide what actually fits into possible solution, and then we get to say, what do you want to try this week? Right? What works for you? The kids get to pick the solution. Because once we go through and decide what works, what doesn't work, and we cross some things off, whatever is left, everybody's okay with, right?

Ask the kids what they want to try. They might have different ideas, different things they want to try. That's fine. At our most recent family meeting, you know, my daughter was like, you know, I do pretty good with, you know, noticing what needs to be done. I'd like to just practice that this week and for the next couple weeks, just trusting that I'm gonna, you know, help out every day. And I'm like, okay, great. We'll see how that goes. That sounds awesome, and she writes it on the whiteboard so that we know that she's done something. Ian, on the other hand, we agreed that before dinner he would get a job done, something right? Well, then the week rolls out. He's got basketball practice. He's got basketball games. He's got papers to write. Days go by, this doesn't happen. And then it's like, Thursday night. And I said, Okay, it's been a few days. So now I would like for you to do a few jobs. I got a few jobs for you to do. Okay, fine, okay, great, okay, we have dinner. So kind of went back on that part of the agreement. And then after dinner, I'm like, okay, great. You're gonna do it after dinner. He's like, Well, I gotta. I gotta do my English paper. I'm like, okay, great. After English paper, you can do your jobs. And guess what he did? He did it after his after his English paper. So, you know, part of this, like, it's a fine line right between, where can I be flexible? Where do I need to be rigid this weekend, on Sunday, I had a conversation with him about, you know, it seems like it's really hard for you timing wise, even though it seems like you have plenty of time to be on your phone, but it seems like during the week, it's hard for you to find time to do contributions. So maybe this week we can try, you know, you can do a big dose of contributions today, Sunday, and then, you know, just the regular help out after dinner during the week. And he said, Okay, great, and he did a few jobs for me on Sunday. So there is, you know, there is flow, there's flexibility, but there's also. So the firmness and the structure around I'm not going to throw out the expectation that my kids help out around the house, but I can be flexible around what that looks like. And at the end of the day, it might feel like, what's the point of doing all this at a family meeting if it's not even what they're going to follow? Well, the point is that it is this really pointed, neutral, non judgmental space to continue to have conversations around this thing for us, chores and contributions that isn't going away, right? It isn't going away. So there's that. So there's the problem solving in our family. We also look at the calendar, what's going on during the week? I want to know, are there tests? Are there sports practices, games, work, events. Talking about the calendar each week connects us to each other's schedule and how it shows up. Is less stress. It just feels less stressful for busy families. In my experience, when we've taken time on the weekend to be like, Okay, here's what we can expect for the week ahead. And then finally, the final thing that we put into our family meetings is planning something fun, putting quality family time on the calendar. And if you are a parent of a teen, which most of you are, that listen to this podcast. You know, that's kind of something that we have to seemingly let go of as they turn into teenagers. They don't necessarily always want to spend time with us or spend time with the family. Being in the routine of family meetings actually gives us space for putting something on the calendar where we're all connecting and doing something together. So for example, playing a board game, going on a hike, being out in the world, pizza and ice cream, a movie night, whatever your family decides works, but pick a day and a time in this process that it will happen to ensure that it happens, right? I love this part because we say, okay, we and it's interesting too, like there's if it's on, if we talk about on the family meeting and we put it on the calendar and then that day shows up, there's typically not a ton of pushback. So I'm, I'm excited about that. I'm excited about that. And that's the process. That's the process. We've talked about allowance when we used to do when the kids were younger. We talked about allowance during family meetings. We've talked about meal planning during family meetings. There's lots of things that you can bring into the conversation. However, family meetings should not be longer than 20 minutes. Okay? 20 minutes. So don't get really crazy with the agenda. Family meetings are a great place, a great opportunity for parents to practice integrating their own personal growth, because your kids will show up as they show up, right? How you show up cannot be determined by the enthusiasm of the group. Let me say that again, how you show up to family meetings can, should not, should not be determined by the enthusiasm of the group. Okay? Because you might have family members who are like, God family meetings, and you get to say, yep, who's gonna go first with compliments, right? You get to bring the enthusiasm, not over the top, but you get to bring kind of the steady, grounded calm this is happening, right? The kindness and the firmness to the process. Remember also, something that's important is to connect before you correct or redirect. During family meetings, you get to practice staying curious, right? This is all about cultivating belonging. Remember, belonging is connection and significance, which is response sense of responsibility and purpose. Our kids that have a healthy sense of belonging and significance tend to show up better in the world and be happier, healthier humans. And it's a side benefit to family meetings that problems get solved. It's really the power is in the process more than in the outcome or the product. And again, full transparency, Ian and Ian is my 16 year old. He and I have been doing the same family meeting dance for 12 years. He gets kind of bored, uncomfortable and squirmy with the process, just like he always does, and I get irritated, and we bicker almost every time, right? And recently, I've just really come to be ever more aware of like, Oh, we're both participating in this exp. Experience in this little dance. I work really hard, you guys not to be a bitch during family meetings. I lean towards controlling and giving that up to trusting. The process is my work, and I do it the best I can. I do it imperfectly. I mean, we have done things like I don't. I don't lead the family meeting anymore. I am not the recorder, right? That was how the family thought, like this might be a good way to get mom to calm down, is to not have her be in charge. What I am is committed to this process. I am committed to this being a part of what we do as a family. I'm not letting it go. Sometimes a few weeks will go by and it would be easy to just be like, meh, and I bring it back. I say we're doing a family meeting. We are consistently inconsistent and imperfect at it, and when we do them, we do better in general as a family. And we've been doing it long enough that my kids know the drill, and we make sure that there's ice cream sundae fixings for after call it a bribe if you want, but we just call it part of the routine.

Here is what I hear from parents, especially parents of teenagers. Is it too late, right? Are you a parent of teens who's just kind of tuning into the family meeting thing, thinking like, well, I can't do this. We've never done it before. We don't know the routine. No, it's not too late. You absolutely can do this. Absolutely you can bring this to your family, and I think you just do it really authentically and say, hey, you know what? I love you guys. We're in the final hours here, like there is not a lot of time ahead of us where we are going to be together, you know, as a family, as much as we are now, and it's important to me that we have a place and a process for connecting and solving problems and planning stuff to do together. So I want to try this thing. The next question is, what if they don't engage? Okay, we'll start small. Start small, right? Start small. Start with those compliments. Maybe start with complimenting one person at the table, inviting them, you know, and getting curious about what they're worried about. Because, you know, kids have a pretty good radar. Teens know, when we are looking for opportunities to tell them about all the things they're doing wrong, they're not into it. They don't want to show up for that. They get it all the time, right? So if they hear family meeting, they might think, Oh, great, another place for my parents to tell me what I'm doing wrong. So you get to find out, like, what's keeping what makes this uncomfortable for you? Really, this is just about having fun together, yeah, so getting under the surface and finding out what is keeping the teenager from engaging, but also being willing to flex into that firmness and say, Nope, we're going to do it. So just when you're done with dinner tonight, we're already at the table, we'll just, we're just going to do this little practice. Right? Another question that I get is, what if my partner isn't into it again? We get to go to the people in our lives and say, Hey, I just want to do this thing because I love you that much, and I want to create a space where we can, you know, maintain our connection. Our kids are getting older, we don't have a lot of more time with them. You know, join me on this mission. Let's play with it. Let's see how it feels. You might feel like, Oh, our life is way too busy for something like this. Did I mention 20 minutes? 20 minutes makes such a huge difference. Does not have to be a huge, long, drawn out thing, and I trust that you and your family can find a time that works for you. We do after dinner, sometimes on Sundays or whenever I'm like, Ah, we haven't done one. Let's do one, right? Let's do a family meeting, but it's typically after dinner, because the other thing we've kind of gotten out of the habit of eating dinner as a family together at the table. I'm just going to be transparent about that. And so when we do have family meetings, the nice benefit has been, hey, we're going to have a family meeting tonight, so we're all gonna eat dinner at the table together, and it's really nice. It's really nice. And then finally, parents say, Do I have to? No, you don't have to. You can do whatever you want. But I'm just presenting this as a really useful and powerful practice and routine for building connection and holding space for important life skills for your kids. So no, you don't have to, but why don't you want to? Right? Why don't you want to? It's really fun when it's not super annoying. I'm doing a really good job of selling it right. Some. The tools that parents can use coming into family meetings, one which I love, have the courage to be imperfect. This does not have to look perfect. In fact, it won't. So be courageous enough to be in the messiness of it. Remember that mistakes are opportunities to learn. That's what this is about. Chores aren't working out. Let's figure out something different. I don't need to get pissed at everybody. I just get to say, like, Hey, okay, that didn't really work, and nobody's really helping out. And how can we make this better? Right? And remember, too, it's all just about connecting. It's about connecting, connecting, connecting, connecting, right? This is what. This is it. You guys. It's about being in relationship with our kids. And family meetings are a great way to build connection, to build influence. It's a place where kids get to be seen and heard, and they get to be autonomous and sovereign and use their voices. They get to be an equal partnership with the problem solving and the looking for solutions and the planning something fun, and that's super key, especially in the teen years. I mean, we are grooming them to launch, right? We want them to launch. We want them to have the skills that they need to advocate for themselves and to come up with solutions and all those good things, right? Family meetings are a container that really allow for that development. And listen. You get to decide if you want to bring this into your family. You can decide what to call it, when to run it. All you're really doing here is creating a container for connection, like I said, As soon as your own family understands that, that it isn't something like I said, where people are made to feel bad, but instead they're given a voice and agency in the family, they're going to be more likely to join in. I have a lot more to say about this, and maybe I will, but I want you also to know, so I have a gift for you. If you don't already have it, some of you might have it because I offered it as a bonus to some of the webinars from last year. My gift to You is the family meeting guide for parents of teens. I break down all the steps and and the process for getting started, because you don't just dive in the deep end, you start in the shallow end and build and build and build. And I think it's really useful. So the link for that is in the show notes. Okay, you can get it in the show notes and take a look at it, read through it. There's even a sample agenda on the last page for you to use if you have questions, if you try it out and it feels wonky, if it you know, if you're having a hard time getting buy in from your family, if you have questions, reach out. A great place to reach out is in the joyful courage for parents of teens Facebook group, because come on, it's a huge pool of parents on a mission to be in relationship with their teens and doing the best they can. There's a lot of people in there that are running family meetings so you can get feedback from them, or you can email me at KC, at joyful courage.com, I'm happy to read your email and respond if you really want to get some help, I have some different coaching offers that might be useful as well, including the intensive coaching offer, which gets you a 90 minute call, and we can dive deep into family meetings and what you need, how to get started. And then after that 90 minute call, you get 30 days of support on Voxer, which is a voice messaging app where we're talking back and forth. So you can be like, Oh my god, I tried to do it. Here's what happened, here's the challenge, here's the celebration. I'm going to respond to you. So we talk back and forth for 30 days, and then we have another half hour call. So that's the intensive coaching that I offer, as well as a six session package. So you decide what works for you. Try it out, try it on. Let me know. Let me know how it goes. I will be over here working on getting ever more consistent with our own family meetings and letting you know how it goes as well. Thank you so much for listening. I hope this is helpful.

All right, another solo show in the bag. I hope you took away value again. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me at Casey, at joyful courage.com, I do read every single email that comes my way. If you loved the show, please. Please show your support by writing a review wherever you listen to podcasts to help our impact grow. Thank you to the team at sproutable for your back end. Help. And Chris at pod shaper.com, for your stellar editing. You guys, I'm so honored that you listen each week. We are all doing the best we can in the moment that includes you have a beautiful, beautiful day, and we'll see you Thursday with episode. What are we on? Four of the becoming sproutable limited series. Love you. Bye

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