Balance: Family Life is as Important as Work

As parents, we get caught in the hustle and grind of the days--working, earning, and pursuing financial and work goals. I encourage you to be mindful that each aspect of our lives requires it's due attention.

I know it is important to take good care of your loved ones, so you work diligently. The job pays the bills and puts a roof over your heads. Having certain income puts us in a position to be reliable parents.

Although providing financially is important, emotional support takes equal priority.

Just like the roof and the food, it is also priority to give care to our children by being present for their important moments. The time you spend together while your children are young essentially makes them who they will be as adults. Maintaining a good relationship with them today forms a solid foundation for a long-term bond.

As you consider how to put the same effort into your family that you put into work, consider this...

When you encounter a important task, project or challenge at work what do you do?

More than likely, you have a plan or process to manage work. You strategize, collaborate with key players, research, plan, and take action. But when it comes to previously mentioned encounters in the family, we expect things to change with little to no purposeful plan or intent.

As I asses my own work-family balance, I want to give equal commitment to my family duties as I do my professional responsibilities and personal care because they go hand in hand. One way I find balance is by having family meetings.

What is a family meeting?

A family meeting is a discussion that involves all family members who are concerned about or affected by a particular issue. Topics can include:

  • a problem that the family is experiencing

  • a plan for a project, activity or task

  • prevent problems that may occur

Why have a family meeting?

Considering the fast-paced and hectic lives that many families lead, being more intentional about finding time to connect becomes essential for balance. The technological distractions of the computer and video games, extra-curricular activities, school and work pressures pull family members in various directions. Family meetings provide a time that everyone can focus on being a family and creates counterbalance to the hectic lives that we lead today.

Family meetings give everyone a voice, therefore building children’s self-esteem. It is helpful when the children are treated like valued members of the family whose ideas are listened to and considered. During family meetings, children can discover that family members are interdependent, that they are all connected, and what each person does can have an effect on everyone else.

Children also learn skills in family meetings such as compromise, openness to other’s ideas and cooperation. This gives them practice dealing effectively with problems they may encounter in other situations and social settings. It also provides a platform for information to be shared equally, conflicts to be addressed and for problems to be resolved in a way that feels fair to everyone. You as the parent will set the limits of what is acceptable, but everyone has input.

How to have a an effective family meeting.

There is no one way to have a family meeting. It can be a one time event or be held on a regular basis, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. If your family meets regularly, your role initially will be to provide nonjudgmental leadership. Over time you may decide to rotate leadership. The main thing is to include everyone in the family who is concerned or affected.

Set a positive tone

  • Plan weekly schedules/calendars in advance so everyone knows what each person will need to do and what commitments have been made.

  • The meeting will be most effective and well received if they do not occur only to handle crises or to distribute jobs and discipline.

  • Set an agenda so that everyone knows what will be discussed.

  • Establish ground rules (no interruptions, no put downs, everyone is listened to) etc

Tips for success

  • Add to a constructive atmosphere by including refreshments or schedule some meet times during a meal.

  • Include an opening activity that highlights positive family events or achievements or affirms individual family members. Example – best thing I did today.

  • Avoid letting one person dominate who might think he has more rights than other members.

  • Keep the family meeting short – with young children, the meeting should be no longer than 15 minutes.

As your children see that they are respected and listened to, they will begin to appreciate the value of family meetings. You may even find them requesting family meetings when they have issues they want the family to address.

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