We're trying it. The Family Meeting. We were putting it off until the kids had enough maturity to make it worthwhile, but that was a moving target for sure. Tonight marked the second Wilson Family Meeting and I just had to document it here for all those who are trying it with their families and are getting discouraged.
There are a lot of great resources online about how to run family meetings. I read several articles, took notes and tried a lot of their suggestions. I created an aura of excitement with professional invitations, included dessert, and kept the meeting reasonably short. I listened patiently when they had difficulty staying on topic and used the mommy skill of gentle redirection. I made sure to balance serious discussions with playful ones. It was going pretty well.
During one part of our meeting, everyone was invited to share a concern or a need that was bothering them, openly and without repercussion. I'm not sure they quite understood, because one of my children reported they needed new underwear and another told me we were out of homework pencils. To illustrate what I meant, I expressed how I would love it if Daddy would stay awake during family meetings. (Nice, Drew.)
The meeting quickly disintegrated. They talked at the same time, they interrupted each other, they enjoyed the pulpit a bit too much and attacked each other with smirks on their faces as they "got away with it" in the spirit of open disclosure. They were fixated on who's turn it was to make dessert next and whether or not mom was going to make them set goals again for next week. But then it was time for questions.
One of the ways my mom and dad used to get us talking was with the Ungame -- a collection of thought-provoking questions for all different age groups. I decided to use these same questions at our meeting to help our kids get comfortable talking about real and sometimes difficult topics. As you can imagine, they were nervous and cracked jokes when they should have been attempting an answer, but they'll get better at it. This is what Drew would call a "stretch goal."
Then it was my turn and I got the question, "Describe an experience of answered prayer." I started crying immediately as I tried to describe a moment of answered prayer I would never forget. And then I told another one. And another one. I think they would have sat there all night watching their mommy in tears, describing how real God is to her. They weren't laughing anymore. They were still and respectful and curious and hopeful about this God who speaks so loud. I will try to remember this night when future meetings fall apart and seem like a waste of time. Little nuggets of Truth and Love are going to sneak in when we least expect it. All we have to do is show up.