By McKayla Skinner
Each school year is full of new firsts. For some, it may be the entrance into kindergarten, for others new teachers, or even a whole new school. With all the changes that come with a new school year, it can lead many family members feeling scattered and sometimes drained. How can your family stay centered? Give family council a try.
Family Council Steps
Dedicate an evening out of your week to invite the family to meet together. Make sure each member of the family is given at least 24-hours notice with the topic and the time. This enables each family member to clear their schedule or work together to find a time that may be better everyone in the family.
Invite the family to the meeting with a topic or question in mind; for example: “Things to help our family stay strong” or “Ideas to help our family work well together”, or even “Love at home.”
Begin with love, consider taking a moment to say something you appreciate about each member of the family. This step is vitally important, if each family member feels loved and appreciated it invites a tone of respect. Appreciation and respect must be present to reach the solutions to problems or issues later. If harmony is not in your family, then asking for forgiveness should precede this process, or would need to be in congruence with it. This step also relieves some of the pressure that family members may feel from personal issues or experiences during the day. If your family is not accustomed to expressing loving words to one another, start with other phrases that include gratitude. Even expressing gratitude that each family member is present despite other interests they may have is effective in establishing a loving tone for your meeting.
Let father, mother, or another parental guardian be the facilitator to make sure each family member gets a chance to voice their needs and give solutions to the council topic or question. Try to stay on topic, only discussing one family issue at a time. Use a sheet of paper, envelope, or other method to set aside additional topics mentioned for follow up councils. However, be flexible if there seems to be an emergency or pressing need that requires resolution. This gives each family member time to consider their personal feelings, observations, and inspired solutions. Families burdened by burnout can list what things need to be done, then ask who is willing to take on certain tasks. This places responsibility on each family member and gives them an opportunity to be valued and appreciated. Allowing each family member to make suggestions takes the pressure of a “lecture” or a “talk” off a parent. As the discussion commences do not be surprised if opposing views come up; honest feelings and observations are signs that members want to participate and want to be part of the solution. French essayist Joseph Joubert argued for each individual’s voice in a journal claiming, “We may convince others by our arguments; but we can only persuade them by their own.” Therefore, there can be no a foolproof solution without representation from every voice.
A light refreshment can carry on the conversation, if needed, in a less formal way and can allow that harmony initiated at the beginning of the council to continue. It can help those that may not have shared their feeling entirely to feel included again and better able to share their feelings.
Follow-up is not a sign of failure, but rather one of evaluation. French Essayist Joseph Joubert stated, “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” Follow-up may reveal how a family plan needs adjustment and allow all members to develop discipline as they implement new habits to strengthen the family.
Through this process of family councils, families can anticipate new beginnings, stay organized, and be strengthened. They can, with time, expect better communication, greater love, and a better home environment.