It was Friday night and my family was nervously sitting in a circle in our living room. Every one had a cup of hot chocolate in their hands, looking at their Father and wondering what he was up to now. This was an important event for me. I had prayed about it all day and now the moment had arrived.
Those of you who have children know the challenge of keeping peace among siblings. There is often conflict of one sort or another. Conflicts generally arise from someone feeling they were treated unfairly. Many times issues are never resolved and this can build resentment and more conflict.
On that Friday night I broke the silence and explained to the kids that each week we would have a family council. I then proceeded to lay out the rules for our first “official” council:
1. All will have an opportunity to speak and share their feelings of frustration with anyone in the family including Mom or Dad.
2. While speaking there will be absolutely no interruptions.
3. All will have the freedom to say whatever they want without fear of retribution.
4. When everyone has a turn Mom and Dad will work with you to resolve your issues.
5. Expressions of anger or arguing will not be allowed.
6. Mom and Dad will not discuss their issues in this council.
With some apprehension I turned the siblings loose, starting with the youngest. It worked beautifully. The frustrations poured out, some authentic, some rather petty. But they spoke and we listened. I remember when one child finished expressing his pent-up feelings he took a deep breath and exclaimed, “Boy that felt good.” I knew then we were on our way to something good for this family.
When everyone had finished their turn my wife and I attempted to bring resolution by addressing the problems raised. For instance we would ask one of the children, “Why do you think your sister feels the way she does? Can you think of what you could do differently next time?” If there was a good response we would all clap in confirmation. We did everything we could to make this time a positive experience so the children would look forward to the next council.
When a “complaint” was directed at Mom or Dad we made sure we responded by giving an example of fairness and understanding. Confessing we made a mistake and asking for forgiveness was not only the right thing to do, it was another great teaching tool for admitting wrongs.
My wife and I always ended the counsel by asking the children what we could do as parents to make their lives better. And then we would sneak in what they could do to make our life better.
Single parents can also start a family council, and this is especially helpful for blended families. Why not give it a try? All you have to loose is some hot chocolate.
Respond to this article View Reader Comments