Sundays are meeting days at our house. For a family government to run effectively certain meetings need to happen on a regular basis. After church we eat lunch, have a couple’s meeting, a family meeting, a family spiritual meeting, and then mentor sessions with the children. These meetings keep our family communication open and help us stay focused on our family vision.
Spencer, my husband, and I started having couple’s meetings as soon as we started doing foster care because we soon realized that we regularly needed time to plan out how we were going to help our foster children through some of their difficult behaviors. We soon noticed that by having these couple’s meetings we were also able to stay united in our parenting vision.
There were many days when we would have a couple’s meeting to remind each other how to handle a certain kind of situation. In fact, at the beginning of our foster parenting experience, we had couple’s meetings almost every day just so that we could keep all of our new skills working. Now we have couple’s meetings once a week and that seems to be enough for our family of four children.
Recently, when we had the troubled youth from Britain come with the BBC film crew, we went back to having more meetings. To help these teens with their difficult behaviors and make our home still run smoothly, we needed to talk more often. Couple’s meetings should happen at least once per week and more when necessary. Couples with large families may need to have two meetings per week to address all the needs in the family. The other option is to only discuss a portion of the children each week.
Once you get into the habit of having couple’s meetings, you won’t want to miss. If you miss your couple’s meeting one week, it will be noticeable. Spencer and I have noticed that when we have our couple’s meetings we are much more unified as parents and also have a better marital relationship.
The marital relationship affects all of the family relationships. In a family of six, there are 30 separate relationships. Each person has five relationships to manage. However, if just one of those relationships is strained or struggling, all 30 relationships become affected. Of these 30 relationships the parents are involved in eighteen of them. So, if the relationship between the parents isn’t healthy, then over half of the family relationships become weak, and the other twelve relationships are affected because each person has a relationship with these two people who are not happy and contributing a feeling of love to the group.
Taking the effect each person has on the family relationships into account, if you notice one of your relationships going poorly, first take a look at your relationship with your spouse. If that relationship isn’t strong, then the whole family could be feeling the negative affects of the strained relationship.
If your relationship with your spouse is good, then begin working on the adult/child relationship. Incidentally, I have also noticed that if your relationship with your spouse is not good, you might need to strengthen your relationship with God before you can effectively repair your relationship with your spouse. God is a big part of the family. If a spirit of providence and inspiration is in the home, then all members of the family will be able to govern themselves better.
f a parent just starts trying to correct problem behaviors without looking at the relationships, then the correction process will be superficial and lose some of the power to change the heart of the child. The parent’s heart must be in the right condition to repair relationships. And the relationships need to be in good condition to correct behaviors.
The House United
If you draw a picture of a house with a square on the bottom and a triangle on the top, you get a pretty good picture of how your home should be built. The line on the bottom of the house is the condition of the parent’s heart or relationship to God. The walls of the home each represent a parent. Both parents must be equally working together to support the family. The top line of the square is the children’s relationships to the parents. The strong parent relationships support the parent/child relationship. The two lines forming the sides of the triangle are the lines representing teaching and correcting the child. When the two lines come together at the top of the home, the whole home is pointing upward. This signifies the progress toward goodness, and vision.
Three people are invited to the weekly couple’s meeting: Mom, Dad and God. All must be present for the meeting to be uplifting and inspirational. At the beginning of each couple’s meeting we pray to invite God’s spirit to be with us. The couple’s meeting should take place in a room where Mom and Dad can speak in private without interruptions. Okay, with as few interruptions as possible. Have a scheduled time to have your couple’s meeting so it always happens. I know people who have their couple’s meetings on Saturday nights as part of a date. This is great. Whatever time works best for you.
I understand that not all families have two parents living at home. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have a couple’s meeting. These meetings will just look different for your family. For example, you may want to call your meetings something else such as parent planning meetings. You will weekly schedule a quiet place to put your thoughts about your family and children down on paper. Don’t forget to invite God to your meeting too, in the form of a prayer.
All parents need as much inspiration as possible. It is no easy job to raise children in these troubled times. Single parents have a harder time raising children because they don’t have a dedicated consultant so it is very important to bring God into the equation. It could also be helpful for single parents to have couple’s meetings with their own parents, trusted friends, or church leaders to discuss problems. Such support teams can really add a lot of additional support.
Keeping Organized And Focused
Over the years I have learned that there are ways to have a meeting with your spouse and also ways not to have a meeting with your spouse. While we had difficult foster children staying in our home my husband was encouraged to participate and initiate couples meetings, but after we stopped fostering he thought he finally got out of meetings for good. He didn’t used to like meetings at all. I am happy to report that his attitude has changed, but if I start using the meeting for the wrong purpose then he wants to check out.
I have found there are many important principles to govern an effective couple’s meeting by. How long should they go? Who is in charge of the meeting? Where should we have them? What should be discussed? What format works best for couple’s meetings? How do we keep ourselves on track and in our time limit? These are important questions to answer in order to make your couple’s meetings enjoyable, beneficial, and efficient. When you have regular deliberate discussion as husband and wife, involving the Spirit, your home will be strong enough to weather any storm.
There is a couple’s meeting sheet available for copy in my book Parenting A House United. Available at http://teachingselfgovernment.com/shop/ I also go into greater detail about how to use the form and run an effective meeting in the book. The book also discusses other helps for keeping the Spirit in the home and skills to use for solving problem behaviors in the family.
For more free parenting and family strengthening tips go to Nicholeen’s blog <a href="http://teachingselfgovernment.
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