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© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

What about a family meeting to discuss helping?

How have you all handled the basics? Trash, dishes etc. Have you had a meeting and tried to see how the things can get done so that everyone agrees?

 

In summary, it seems so obvious that kids should help. It's like breathing. But it helps to picture wanting chores done as like wanting something ridiculous like scrubbing the garage floor or putting objects used multiple times a day away on high shelves only accessible by a ladder.

 

How would you get the family to cooperate in meeting those "needs"?

 

You don't ;-) You recognize those "needs" belong to you. You can do them joyfully and ask for help. But it can't be an order disguised as a question. No must be an acceptable answer.

 

I like the idea of working things out very democratically, where everyone is involved in the running of the house or whatever decisions have to be made. It is all worked out as a team.

 

Did everyone volunteer to be on the team? Pretending it's a democracy is paying lip service to democracy when everyone but the leaders were conscripted.

 

It can be done democratically if the parents recognize the chores belong to them and 1) ask the kids for help, 2) accept no as an answer and 3) appreciate that however little the child does, that's less you'll have to do. OR if kids make more work than they give, appreciate that you have someone who wants to be with you and help you. And maybe that second one is best regardless of how much help they are:-)

 

 

The family meetings I've heard described sound like lots of business meetings I've been in where it doesn't matter what the real issues are, you are supposed to follow the company line and agree with the boss.

 

I had the same thought.

 

I think an aspect of the relationship between parent and child that most parents aren't conscious of is the incredible imbalance of power. A democratic meeting should mean that all parties have an equal voice. But in a family, parents are (hopefully benign) dictators. The parents may choose not to wield their authority but there's no getting around that they can veto anything at anytime "just because".

 

And to have democratic meetings in a family, parents need to be ultra aware of that imbalance of power. It's too easy to slip into the role of judge and decision maker and "persuader to the right point of view" rather than give that up and be one of the "peons".

 

(Not that I think that parents should give up veto power. They should just be aware of the imbalance of power and guard against slipping into that role unconsciously when what is really called for is listening respectfully to all points of view, not just the ones we agree with or line up with our thinking.)

 

So when discussing going on a family vacation in a democratic family meeting who the suggestions come from shouldn't matter. Everyone's ideas should be taken equally seriously since to the person their suggestions are just as serious as anyone else's.

 

This discussion of a family meeting where the agenda was what to do about one person's actions towards another and what punishment, had more the aspects of a trial than a meeting. The child's guilt was already predetermined. The only part that needed settled was to have the child publicly admit wrong doing and to choose his punishment.

 

 

Joyfully Rejoycing