Monthly Parenting Tip: Do today’s parents listen too much?
Do Today’s Parents Listen Too Much?
by Tiffany N. Smith, LMFT-S, LPC-S, NCC
Kids need to feel heard, but sometimes as parents we are unsure when we need to set limits on the listening.
When does listening become manipulation?
Sometimes our children can be so convincing that they are “right” about why it’s okay that they are allowed to play video games during the week because Tommy’s parents let him, that they simply refuse to accept the word “No.”
As children grow and mature it is natural for them to question rules and ask “why?” As parents, it is our job to allow them the opportunity to express how they feel but at the same time maintaining the security of limits.
How can children feel they are able to express how they feel without being disrespectful of their parents’ authority?
This is where Family Meetings come into play. It is basically like a staff meeting for your house. Parents are the Supervisors who call the meeting and maintain order. There is an agenda for the meeting and all family members are allowed to bring up specific issues (see outline below). The issues are discussed and voted on with Parents having the final say. So the next time Suzy wants to discuss why she can’t have sleepovers 2 nights in a row or that Sarah has more chores than Jacob, parents can suggest they bring it up in the family meeting and it will be voted on during that time.
Any discussions on change in rules or questioning of rules will only be discussed during family meeting time. It is best to have a family meeting scheduled for a time that is convenient for all family members to be there. Place them on the calendar and at the end of each meeting decide when the next family meeting should take place. Typically families hold them twice a month, but they can be held weekly if necessary.
Family Meeting Rules
• A parent heads the family meeting. It should last no more than 30 minutes.
• Each person writes down something to talk about and presents it to the family.
• Everyone can say something about the problem but there is no yelling, blaming, or interrupting.
• Always end a discussion about a problem with 2 possible solutions.
• Family meetings are not just about problems. They should include plans for activities and how to spend family fun time.
• End each meeting by having family members say one thing they appreciate about everyone in the group.
What time will the meeting start and end? _________Start __________End
Who will run the family meeting?____________________________________
Things we will talk about:
Three important rules for the meeting:
A fun way to end the meeting:__________________________________________
Things we decided at the meeting:______________________________________
This parenting tip was written by Tiffany Smith of Tiffany Smith Counseling, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor (LMFT-S), Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S), and National Certified Counselor. She co-authored “Strategic Family Therapy” and “Multiculturalism in Family Therapy” in the textbook, A Practical Approach to Teaching Family Therapy (Springer Publishing, 2010). Tiffany also served as a workshop presenter at the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Conference in 2006. She’s a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, American Counseling Association, and American Association of Brief and Strategic Therapists. She is ready to help you get your life back on track.