Town Meeting, Family Meeting

by ParentCo. March 03, 2015

It's Town Meeting Day here in Vermont. Town meeting is an annual tradition where town citizens come together to air grievances, address town business, and connect and socialize at the end of the Vermont winter. It's often called "democracy practiced in its purest form." Town meetings seem quaint compared to national politics. However, decisions made at town meeting often have a bigger impact on daily life than those made in Washington. I’ve been thinking about how the values of annual town meetings echo with those of weekly family meetings. When I originally heard about the “family meeting”concept, it sounded like a wishy-washy new age parenting technique. However, family meetings are just the opposite of wishy-washy. They’re actually a practical tool with many concrete benefits. They’ve also become one of my family's most important rituals. We follow Vicki Hoefle’s advice about family meetings. Every Sunday before dinner we sit down together to share appreciations for each other, discuss and solve problems, and share our schedules. At the end of the meeting, we give our kid her allowance. That’s it. It usually takes about 10 minutes.
This small slice of intention adds incalculable order to our normal routine.
Family meeting is important to our kid’s development. It teaches her how to take part in a meeting, how to responsibly share and solve problems, how to coordinate a schedule, and (not least of all) how to give and receive appreciations and compliments. Who knows - someday, she might even use the lessons learned in family meeting at town meeting, and beyond. MORE INFO Vicki Hoefle has smart and useful ideas for structuring family meetings, which you can read on or in her book "Duct Tape Parenting." One of her ideas is that family meeting participation isn't mandatory. However, family meeting is where allowance is handed out. If a kid doesn't take part, they don't get allowance for that week.


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