The Beauty of the Family Meeting

Oh, the family meeting. Could I take a moment to recommend these to you? The fact is, your family needs to get together. You need to sit down and talk, and you need to do this frequently. You are a family after all, right? You're in this thing together, right? You're a unit. You're a team. You're stronger together than you are apart. You have big plans, big hopes, big dreams and you need everyone's participation to help make them a reality. 

Does your family view itself like this? If it doesn't, it won't do a lot of good for me to go on about family meetings and such. Let's start by laying out a vision, and then we can get to some nuts and bolts later.

We're still working on this, but there was a time when my family felt like it had nothing to work on together, but lots of things to work on apart. Do you know what I'm talking about? Dad has his work, his interests. Mom has her work, her interests. The children are content to be merely spectators, waiting for the next meal to arrive. Eventually, though, the whole family gets the message -  "Just find something to do and do it, but don't expect a lot of help. It's ok. Everyone's busy and we need to stay out of each other's way."

Might I suggest to you a better way? Might I suggest that God placed you and your clan together for a reason? Might I also suggest that there is more joy to be extracted from your work when you engage in it collectively? Every one manning their respective stations and looking out for the interests of the other members and always with the end goal in mind.

But what of this "end-goal"? What's that? Well, that's just about anything you want it to be, but the point is that you need to pursue it together. It could be a clean house. It could be family fitness. It could be service to your community. It could be a week long vacation. It could be spiritual discipline. It could be moving to or building a new home. It could even be simply sitting down together as a family to share in at least one meal a day.

But again, I'll say, the point is that you pursue it together.

I've known families (lots of them), and I'm sure you've known some too, that go (or went) about their days almost completely detached from each other. They're like some cold, compartmentalized machine; everyone doing their part, but no one taking part in the other's doing. The dad is convinced he has one role and one role only — to provide. Almost everything else becomes a nuisance. The mother? She keeps the home base. The father thinks this is easy — he is mistaken. If he's not careful he runs the risk of alienating his surest help in the great enterprise they've undertaken together. Then there are the children. They're generally the casualties in this sorry scene. 

It's true that every family needs a provider. It also needs a home base keeper. Two individuals (father and mother) and two roles. So far so good. 

The problem is, there's a third role. Someone must nurture the family. 

In these coldly compartmentalized families that I've described, the thinking goes that this responsibility falls to the mother. After all, the children spend their time at the home base where the mother also, conveniently, spends the bulk of her time. It only seems right that this duty should fall to her. Wrong.

Let's just look at this from the standpoint of fairness. The father provides, the mother keeps the home base; and if you don't think those scales are balanced, let's throw something like homeschooling in there. Ok, now we're tilting in the other direction, but for the purposes of this illustration, let's just say we're equal. Now, who wants to add 'raising children' to one side? That's definitely going to upset the balance of things.

And another thing — raising children still does not fulfill the third role. To think that the only thing needing to be nurtured in a family are its children is terribly wrong headed and a surefire way to ruin a family. The fact is, THE FAMILY needs nurturing. Every single member nurturing every single member.

Traditional roles are great and all, but the third role cannot be sufficiently filled by any one individual. You have to do it together. Earning a living is great at filling stomachs but it does a poor job filling souls. Housekeeping is better at keeping family operations running smoothly than it is family relationships. Even homeschooling (if you homeschool) is far from being up to the critical task of nurturing the family as a whole.    

In the end, the third role can only be filled by all of you. If even one member withdraws, the role is, to that direct degree, insufficiently filled. In each of the other two roles balance is necessary; but the third role requires working harmony. To be sure, you want everyone doing their part, but you also want everyone to get the sense that their roles are connected and ultimately dependent on one another. That's where the nurturing comes in; and that's where family meetings can work wonders.

Read the second part of this post here.