Every member of your family has a right to have his or her opinions respected. You dont have to agree or go along with what your child wants, but you should at least know what it is, and your child should know why you're overriding his or her preferences. Regular family meetings, where everyone including the children expresses feelings, negative and positive, and all of you work together to solve problems, can help a lot.
Begin family meetings as soon as possible, whether you think you have any issues to discuss or not. Choose a time when everyone can get together weekly, and suggest to everyone that you order pizza, or cook something they like.
Sit down on a weekly basis with your family, and discuss everything about your relationship, positive and problematic, and how its going for each of you. If you have small children, include them and get their input, also.
Begin the session with a brief prayer or blessing, and a round of compliments, where each member gives a compliment to every other member this creates a positive atmosphere.
At the meeting, everyone (including yourself) begins by:
1. Stating three good things about others in the family,
2. Then, each person gets to mention one thing they want to improve, and what they want to do to make it better. Small children will need help until they understand, but they will catch on quickly. Even you and one child can do this.
3. Give everyone a chance to state whatever problems or concerns they have, and everyone can work together to come up with a solution. The only thing that should not happen at these meetings is criticism and complaining. State a problem, if you have one, in matter-of-fact terms, and use I messages: I don't like it when the house gets messy, I have a problem at school", I don't want to argue with Susie anymore.
This simple meeting will do more for the state of your intimate relationship than you can imagine. Given a chance, and the right atmosphere, most problems can be solved before they become disasters.....
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., "Dr. Romance," is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again and Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina email newsletter, and the Dr. Romance Blog. She has written for and been interviewed in many national publications, and she has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live and many other TV and radio shows.