Creating a peaceful, supportive and loving home can be a challenge. We routinely come home after long days only to tackle endless “to do’s” that includes homework, laundry, cooking and schlepping to activities. It’s no wonder that families find it hard to connect. As difficult as it sounds to add one more item to the list, what if you were told that coming together for a “family meeting” (sans electronics) could create deep, emotional connections, build confidence in your teen, allow your child’s voice to be heard and solve pressing problems? What if it would boost your child’s grades or spare them from depression? In the midst of our busy lives we all are looking for the best ROI (Return On Investment) when it comes to how we spend our time and family time can be an important opportunity with monumental benefits.
Family meeting time is defined here simply as coming together for a scheduled event such as playing a board game, going to the park, planning a weekend outing, cuddling up to watch a family movie, or even a Shabbat meal. For families who practice Positive Discipline, a family meeting may start with a round of Compliments and Appreciations, followed by addressing problems on the Family Meeting Agenda. These meetings are proven to make a positive emotional impact on all members of the family and lend themselves to teaching important life skills including active listening, empathy and cooperation. Family meetings can also be exciting when they involve planning family adventures.
A recent study by Cornell University confirmed that family dinners taking place three or more times a week make a significant impact on the quality of relationships in a family as well as the academic and emotional outcomes of children. A leading scholar of the last generation, Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz, reminds us that “Making time for your child entails truly being present both in mind and body, and providing the undivided attention that children need to develop.” Although getting everyone together may seem like a monumental task, making family time a priority can be the critical difference in keeping your family genuinely connected, happy and strong. _
Tammy Keces M.A. is the principle of Irvine Hebrew Day School and a lead Certified Positive Discipline Trainer.