What I learned from parenting workshops #5 — “family meetings” aren’t “family time”!

silver imac on desk

In my last post on this series, I touched on how setting boundaries was necessary with teens. So what’s one opportunity I thought would help do so? Why, a regular dedicated meeting aka family time of course!

I still remember late last year when my wife mooted the idea to have an “assembly” every week. A “family meeting” she called it. Sure, I thought, why not?

A meeting to catch up with each other what’s been happening. To discuss what’s ahead and bring some predictability to our busy lives. To hopefully give us some bonding time too. Especially when our kids are growing older and starting to spend more time away from home because of friends, school and co-curricula activities.

Unfortunately, I suspect my wife and I were coming at it the way corporate executives come at scheduled weekly department meetings!

Newsflash: “Family meetings” are NOT “family time”!

confused businessman checking time on wristwatch
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It started off well enough. Or so we thought.

We told our two boys we will have a family meeting after dinner on Saturdays. We will decide how we’re going to use the time. Most importantly, we will each propose something throughout the week, and put it down in advance on the family meeting discussion list (not time yet to introduce the big corporate word “agenda”. But maybe soon?).

Told the boys it could be anything, so long as it’s a shared list of stuff we could all discuss. Stuff like where to go this weekend. What family movie to catch this month. Whose birthday’s up next and what to get. Which school subject the boys need help with. How much screen time is too much. Which household chore each of us would take charge of.

You know. Things that everyone would find important to discuss as part of family time right?

You could hear the crickets outside. Or was that a pin drop?

Such clueless parents we were. Which kid would be interested in something that militant-sounding and dictatorial?! We were clearly out of our depths!

Looking back now to that time last year, it was truly a disaster just waiting to happen! And it did.

Our firstborn hit the proverbial nail on the head — or I should say, his parents’ heads — when he opined:

“Mummy, it just sounds like a meeting where you and Daddy tell us what to do! So what’s the point of asking us what we want?”


Needless to say, it’s back to the drawing board.

Have rules on what TO do, not what NOT to!

red and white round sign
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Okay this section’s header probably sounds like I’m about to launch into some loopy limerick!

It’s not I assure you.

I’m just struggling with this whole family time connection watchama-thingy (yes I’m making this a word so sue me!). After all, didn’t that parenting workshop trainer specify that we need to set boundaries and dispense rules? What better way than to do so via a family conference.

I mean family meeting.

I mean family time.

Okay wait what? That’s not what she meant? That whole Saturday after dinner watchama-thingy my wife and I conjured up in smug triumph and promptly dumped on our boys isn’t really the way to go?

Rather, we ought to set boundaries by setting rules on what TO do, not what NOT to? (There’s that annoying limerick again!).

And, according to said trainer, apparently to do it (as “woke” parents of this new millennium)…
…at an optimal time (meaning only when the kids are receptive. Sort of like when all the “heavenly stars are aligned”);
…up close and personal, using name of child (not ‘son’, ‘kid’ or the dreaded ‘BOY’!);
…calmly and clearly (like a polite request);
…with a five second pause thereafter (so our words can slowly sink into their heads);
…allowing for room to manoeuvre and negotiate;
…with genuine visible appreciation if they agree;

and finally…
… to reach mutually satisfying and suitable consequences?

NGL (Not gonna lie). It’s all just a tad much!

beautiful girl in white and yellow floral dress covering her face with her hand
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I’ll admit it right now.

This all sounds like some textbook deity dispensing drugs that aren’t exactly lab-tested.

Did the trainer actually, seriously, think that having had our way for the first ten or so years of our kids’ lives, that now we the experienced sage-parents we are must unlearn and relearn?! To do all those steps listed above willingly and with saint-like equanimity?

Clearly the trainer doesn’t know me very well.

Oh wait. I don’t know me very well either. I don’t know why all this mumbo-jumbo is getting my heckles up like nothing has in recent memory.

Didn’t I sign up for such parenting workshops because I’m scared out of my wits that I’ll drop the proverbial parenting ball and raise a twisted tornado instead of a stable teen? If so, then I should be lapping all this up, soaking it all in, and letting it change the way I parent.

*Deep breath*

Sheesh…I can’t (*eye roll*) wait to find out what else is waiting to ‘unravel’ me in my next parenting workshop post!

One thought on “What I learned from parenting workshops #5 — “family meetings” aren’t “family time”!

  1. Communication is an art.As a child,I always would like my parents to give me more private space and not to give me too many tasks and constraints.When I grew up,I slowly understand that parents have been paying too much.No matter what kinds of way, they love me. Thus,I try to communicate with them as much as possible.

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