How to Keep Family Values and Traditions in a Modern Age: The Importance of a Family Meeting
Is it me or does it seem like today’s parents have a lot more stress? Mainstream messages include such things as:
- Self-promotion is more important than teamwork.
- Analytical thinking is more important than intuition.
- The individual is more important than the collective.
- Direct communication is more important than tact.
- Winning is more important than cooperation.
- A hierarchical society is more important than equality.
- Telling is more important than exploration and self-discovery.
- Control is more important than choice.
- Your worth is related to the number of “friends” or “likes” you have on social platforms.
Where electronic devices have revolutionized the way in which we teach and get access to information, these devices have become open access portals to a host of inappropriate, disrespectful, disconnected, immoral, unsafe information and photos. Texting and sending messages through apps has become the preferred way to communicate.
A New York Times Poll, “What Do You Think Is the Most Important Problem Facing This Country Today?” from February of 2017 cited civil rights and race relations, religious and moral decline, crime, media, and unifying the country as some of the “biggest problems” selected by Americans. These issues beat out terrorism, national security, and even poverty!
Some might argue that these problems are arising because there is a breakdown in family values and traditions.
I think modern families are reacting to new technologies and inventions, the rise of companies that target child markets, and the exposure of our children to the big wide world at earlier and earlier ages.
It was relatively simple to pass on and enforce family values and traditions when I was young. You shut the door, turned off the television, unplugged the one phone from the wall, and had everyone\’s attention.
Today\’s parents have to contend with hand-held and portable devices that with a touch of a button can access people and content from around the world. A child no longer walks out the door to the people and the shops in their neighborhood. Their doors open up to social media platforms and communication with anyone and everyone who has downloaded the same app. It opens up to games that allow interaction in real time with anyone who is online around the world, and professional and amateur entertainment programs that they can access through online apps, internet access, as well as televisions.
And we haven\’t even discussed the extra-curricular activities that dominate a child\’s after school hours.
How do you stay connected, keep family values, and traditions in this modern world?
One of the best ways that I know of, to stay connected, teach family values, and uphold traditions is through the use of family meetings. I show parents a specific formula for family meetings that evolved from positive-discipline where the focus is on connection, teaching, problem-solving and creating opportunities for family unity.
Family meetings offer a dedicated space and time each week where parents can not only teach family values and pass on traditions but where family cohesion, connection, and closeness can occur.
Here are 8 tips on how to run a successful family meeting:
- Schedule family meetings at the same time on the same day each week.
- Everyone must show up.
- Limit the family meeting to no more than 20 minutes in the beginning and 30 minutes tops for any meeting.
- End the meeting at the 20-minute mark. Defer unfinished or future discussions to the next meeting.
- Start every meeting with appreciations and compliments. Everyone must say something that they appreciated from someone else in the family or compliment someone else in the family at the start of the meeting. Every person gives and gets an appreciation or a compliment.
- Bring out the calendar and a notebook. Ask everyone to share what is going on over the next week.
- Problem-solve issues that have been negatively affecting the family. This is your opportunity as a parent to pass on your values.
- Decide and plan as a family what you will do together that week, and plan a fun activity as well. Here is where you teach your children your traditions.
We are only scratching the surface. A family meeting alone will not teach your children all of your values or all of your traditions. But, they can start and support your path to holding on and passing them on.
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Catherine Gruener, LCPC, NCC, DCC, PDTC. Catherine is a multi-certified and licensed clinical professional counselor, nationally and internationally known for her parent training programs. She is the owner of Gruener Consulting and the Chief Executive Officer of the Encouragement Parenting Division.