Bring Back the Family Meeting and Give Your Kids a Say

Last month Kenmore asked for my biggest household challenge.  This month, I’m sharing my Genius Tip on how I overcame that challenge!  Kenmore is on the search for everyday genius & each month they are giving away $3,000 in Kenmore gift certificates and a chance to have the best idea turned into an ad!  Enter your Genius Tip Today!

So What’s My Genius Tip?

It can be hard to manage a family and keep rules you are comfortable with as a parent while letting your kids feel like they are contributing and having their say.  I suggest a very simple set of non-negotiable rules and a weekly family meeting to chat about those things that might just not be the end of the world if they changed. The family meeting lets everyone know that there is a time and place to question the current structure and gives everyone a platform…no matter how small they or their grievance may be.

Sometimes as parents we make such a big deal out of sticking to our guns when what we are sticking to isn’t worth it. So my genius tip is a spin on the classic “choose your battles” line. Because really, the battles are SO exhausting!

Bring Back the Family Meeting and Let Your Kids Be Heard!

Here’s how it works.

First, you must decide what rules are absolute in your home.  For us and our small children this includes things like always wearing bike shorts under dresses while at a playground (this can still be a battle) and picking up before we play outside.  It also has musts like bike helmets and absolute nos for language.  We do not take the Lord’s name in vain.  We are big on the commandments in general.  So far there’s no murder so we’re good there.  We also do not say the word hate unless we are talking about hate.  Something has to be really awful to hate it, and we don’t hate people, so it’s out.  I assume as they get older the musts will include things like homework and chores and eventually dating rules and such.  I am terrified.

Second, make a chart or have a board with those few absolutes displayed.  I don’t think this list should be very long, but these are the things that just will not fly in your house.  They are the non-negotiables.

Third, Make a list of the current rules in your house.  This could include rules around bedtime, kids activities, chores, television or video game privileges, curfew, driving privileges, or having friends over.  These are things that sometimes might change and that can be discussed as long as everyone is together and calm and comes to an agreement.

Finally, make a time every week or so to sit down and talk as a family.  Ask if there is anything coming up that might bend the rules and if everything is working for the family.  You will be amazed at what your kids have to say.  Of course you don’t have to agree to everything, but giving them a chance to come to you with what they thin is important in making them feel heard.

Here is a very simple example.  Dora’s Ballet Adventure was coming on at 8 p.m.  That is the children’s bedtime and we don’t watch T.V. at night.  Both Sophia and Miles were very excited about this and asked me if they could have a special night and stay up late to watch.  After some consideration, I said that as long as they were totally ready for bed and we had already read books and they were not behaving like over-tired monsters, that it would be okay.   Sophia actually thanked me for being so understanding.

We also have a rule about kids activities.  You sign up.  You go.  No questions asked.  I moved this rule to the discussion area when my 4 year old came to me calmly with some concerns about her ballet class.  I am so glad I had a place to listen to her.   I let a 4 year old have a say and we are all better for it.

Clearly this works even better for older kids who will need to come to you in advance to ask for a later night out or a movie that is rated R or a party they have coming up.  If it clear that you prefer to make exceptions with advance notice, perhaps you will be able to avoid some of those “I hate yous” that come when you say no to that last minute request for an extra two hours out.

We are just trying to start early so as they grow up then know when and where they can challenge the rules and we can avoid questioning my authority 30 times a day.  So far, it’s working and we are all happier for it!

So let me know what you do to keep the rules and keep the peace and you could win big from Kenmore!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kenmore. The opinions and text are all mine.