In the course of a week, parents often find themselves in the role of referee, judge, coach and therapist as they try to resolve sibling disputes, assign household chores, make sure homework is finished, and comfort a troubled child. As conscious parents we want to empower our kids by teaching them to resolve conflicts in respectful and positive ways, while practicing good communication skills. Family meetings are a great tool for Conscious Parents and Empowered Kids!
In our single-parent household, we held regular family meetings from the time we could talk and walk. My two sisters and I learned to help each other, as well as my mother, resolve frustrations and annoyances as they surfaced instead of letting them build-up to emotional outbursts. Family meetings taught us to take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions while letting go of feeling responsible for the feelings and reactions of others. The meetings helped us feel important and needed because we were all integral to the process of resolving issues and supporting each other. They are a great way to create a shared vision for your family, too

As you look over our family meeting guidelines, consider how many of them are already in place in your household. Are there any that you believe are good in theory but wouldn’t work in practice? Do you feel resistant to any of them? How does that reflect upon your relationship with your child or with your self?
Involving your children in family meetings and implementing rules such as these truly empowers them. They discover that making decisions can sometimes be challenging, that finding a solution that meets everyone’s needs can sometimes be time-consuming, that compromise is sometimes a part of life. More importantly, they learn that they are important because their words are heard. They learn to respect others’ thoughts and feelings because their thoughts and feelings are considered. They learn that when they are equal partners in making important decisions, they are equally responsible for those decisions.
Empowering our children to stand up to peer pressure, to question injustice, and to think for themselves means that there will be times when they stand up to our pressure, question our injustices and think their own thoughts, however contrary they might be to our own. This is good. It can be frustrating, it can be difficult, we might wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but it’s proof that we are on the right track.

Choose parts, if there are more parts than people, read more than one part, make it fun and e-mail us to let us know how it goes.
Characters and Ages, In Order of Number Of Lines:
Jessie, age 8: 19 lines
Peter, age 10: 12 lines
Aiden, age 4: 11 lines
Dad, age 39: (Jorge) 9 lines
Mom, age 41: (Julie) 5 lines
Narrator, ageless: 5 lines

Narrator: It’s Saturday afternoon and most of the members of the Johansson family are doing what they like to do. Aiden, age 4, works on a puzzle. Jessie, age 8, plays with the family dog, Lily, while Peter, age 10, puts the final touches on a model rollercoaster he’s building. Julie, their mom, works on the book she’s writing and Jorge, their dad, is just returning from a jog. As he walks in the door, he stumbles over a roller-blade left in the hallway.

Dad: Hi everybody. I’m back from my jog and I’d like to call a family meeting.
Aiden: Me too!
Jessie: Okay everybody. Dad and Aiden want a meeting. I’m ready!
Peter: Can we meet later? I’m busy working on a project right now.
Jessie: Peter, how about you quickly get to a good stopping point. Dad seems pretty frustrated.
Peter: Okay. I’ll be right there
Narrator: They all sit down in the living room.
Aiden: Who wants to lead the meeting?
Jessie: I will! Okay, Dad and Aiden wanted a meeting. Aiden, is it okay if we listen to Dad first since he called the meeting and then you?
Aiden: Sure.
Jessie: Okay, Dad, did you have a comment or suggestion you’d like to make?
Narrator: Dad has been frustrated lately because the other family members have left their shoes all over the house. While nobody else in the family has even paid attention to where their shoes are, he feels like he is always cleaning up after them.
Dad: It’s important to me that we keep the house neat and lately it seems shoes are left all over the house. So I’d appreciate it if everyone put their shoes and roller-blades away as soon as they come in the house.
Jessie: Does everyone agree with this? Do we agree to put our shoes away as soon as we get home?
Aiden: Yes.
Peter: Sure
Mom: Sure.
Jessie: Well, I have a problem. I like to keep my shoes on for a while when I get home. I guess that’s usually why they end up in the dining room, because I take them off as we’re eating dinner.
Peter: Does anybody have any ideas that could work for Dad and Jessie?
Jessie: Hey Dad, would it be okay with you if I kept my shoes on when I got home and I will try to remember to put them away when I take them off? In case I forget, the second someone reminds me I will stop what I am doing and go put them away. How’s that?
Dad: (frustrated) Jessie, I asked you seven times last week to put away your shoes and you still only put away one pair and left your rollerblades out.
Peter: Dad, you’re focusing on the past. Can we stay focused on what we want to see different in the future instead of blaming or criticizing?
Dad: [muttering to himself] Well, I’m the one who set up these darn rules in the first place…okay…Jessie, I would like some assurance that you will clean up your shoes the first time someone asks.
Jessie: Dad, It sounds like you are really frustrated and I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t realize that it was so important to you. Now that I know that it’s this important, I can make it a priority.
Aiden: Hey Jessie, what if you agree that if you don’t put your shoes away the first time someone asks, you’ll give me one of your Pokeman cards. Whichever I want?
Narrator: Jessie’s a little worried about the thought of giving away any of her Pokeman cards
Jessie: I’d like to find a different solution.
Peter: Jessie, it sounds like your Pokeman cards are really important to you and Dad’s request is important to him. You don’t HAVE to give away a Pokeman card as long as you remember to do what you promise.
Jessie: Dad, does that work for you? I promise to do my best to remember to put my shoes away, but if I forget, you’ll remind me, and I promise to do it right when you ask because I definitely want to keep ALL of my Pokeman cards.
Dad: Well, I know how important your Pokeman cards are to you, so how about we try it and see how it works. I’ll count on you doing your best.
Jessie: Okay. Sounds fair. If I forget I’ll do it as soon as anyone reminds me because I want to keep ALL of my Pokeman cards. Okay, so we’ve all agreed to put our shoes in the closet as soon as we get home, except for me, because I’d like to keep them on a bit longer. I’ll put them away later when I take them off, but if I forget and don’t do it when someone reminds me, I’ll give Aiden a Pokeman card of his choice. Dad, do you feel we’ve addressed your concern?
Dad: Yes. I feel better.
Jessie: Aiden, what was the comment or concern you wanted to bring up?
Aiden: (tears in his eyes) I want people to stop teasing me about not wanting to eat meat.
Jessie: So, Aiden. It sounds like you feel really hurt when we tease you about being a vegetarian.
Aiden: Yes and it makes me mad.
Jessie: Okay. Aiden wants people to stop teasing him. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?
Peter: I think that’s fair but sometimes you like being teased when we are playing around. You even tease us about eating meat so how are we supposed to know when you have had enough?
Mom: What if you had a special word you used when it stopped being fun and started hurting your feelings. Would that work, Aiden?
Aiden: Maybe, but what word?
Jessie: Aiden, why don’t you think of the word or phrase. Then whenever you start to feel sad or mad you can say it, but only use it when you’re serious.
Aiden: How about when I say “I mean it?” If I say, “I mean it” even though we might be teasing or playing around, that means to really listen and take me seriously.
Jessie: Does that sound okay with everybody?
Peter: That sounds fine but how about “I mean it” works for everyone, not just Aiden. When any of us is feeling things are going too far, we can say it and the others will stop.
Dad: That sounds good. So if I tell Jessie to put her shoes away from under the dining room table and she says she’s busy, I can say “I mean it” and she knows that it’s important to me.
[Everyone agrees]
Jessie: Okay, we addressed Dad and Aiden’s concerns, would anybody else like to bring up a comment or concern?
Mom: Well, I have one thing. I would appreciate it if each of us would turn off the television when one of us comes home or into a room after a long time.
Jessie: Okay, does anyone have any comments or suggestions?
Peter: Well, how long do we have to turn it off? What if there’s something good on? And are you going to do the same when you are watching 60 Minutes, Mom?
Mom: I think we can turn it off long enough to make a connection with the person, find out how their day was and how they are. Then we can ask if they mind if we finish watching our program. Each of us is more important than what’s on the TV. And yes, I will turn it off, too, if someone comes home while I’m watching TV.
Aiden: But what if…like last night when you got home, I was watching my favorite movie on TV and it’s only on once in a while and you got home right after the advertisements and it was just getting to the good part, then what would I do?
Jessie: How about if once in a while there is something we are in the middle of a show or movie that’s important to us, we say, “Is it okay if I finish this, or wait for an ad, and then we talk?”
Dad: I think that’s okay as long as it doesn’t happen often.
Peter: Okay, I guess that’s alright.
Jessie: That sounds good. So, we all agree to turn off the TV when one of us gets home or comes in the room.
Peter: Yes, but if it’s important we can ask for a delay.
Mom: Sounds good. Thanks. That’s all for me.
Dad: That’s all for me too.
Peter: I’m heading back to my rollercoaster.
Aiden: I’m done!
Jessie: Me too, so the family meeting is over!
Narrator: Jessie pounces on Aiden and starts a wrestling match that Peter and Mom soon join.

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Garrido is the Editor in Chief of North Star Family Matters magazine to Inspire Conscious Parenting and Empowered Kids. Visit her website
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