Surviving & Thriving with EI: Family Edition— Keeping the Family Meeting Alive Over Time

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This is the fifth and final post in our series on how to engage your family in a conversation about resilience and self-care in the context of the pandemic. Each post has led readers through a family meeting grounded in one of Daniel Goleman’s four domains of emotional Intelligence, starting with self-awareness and self-management and then moving to social awareness and relationship management. In the last post (relationship management) families made agreements and set goals to support each other to stay positive and connected. This final installment will prepare you to continue these conversations over time. 

This series has been a collective Noble Story Group effort, with each of us—Anne, Keith and I—writing the blogs and experimenting at home with family meetings.  Each of us has taken our own family through each stage of our series, and we each hope to continue these conversations in the weeks to come. Based on our EI coaching, classroom teaching experience and our individual family meeting experiments so far, here is what we think works for continuing meaningful family meetings about resilience and self-care over time: 

Make it a family ritual  

Pick the right time and place for your family and make these conversations part of your week or month.  My family has settled into a weekly rhythm on Sunday nights right after dinner. It has become a way that we reflect on last week and look ahead to next week together. Use your agreements and goals from the prior week to initiate the next conversation. One way to do this very concretely is to read them aloud out and then have everyone share in the same way as previous meetings. After the third or fourth time, it will start to feel like another thing your family does.  

Make it about reflections and goals 

After laying the groundwork in the first four conversations, the rest of your family meetings will be about your collective and individual glows, grows and goals.” The meeting answers three basic questions: 

  1. Glows:  What am I/are we doing well that is on our list of goals and agreements?  
  2. Grows: What could I/we do better? 
  3. Goals:  What do I/ we want to focus on next week to live my/our best lives?  

Each family member reflects and shares. Ask the questions above along the way to keep the process moving. Everyone should listen and respond supportively. If our language of glows and grows does not work for you, by all means use your own words.  

Make it feel supportive 

Make sure that you are cheering for each other’s successes and staying constructive when you have suggestions and share observations. If this feels judgmental it does not work because no one is going to talk about their struggles in a room full of critics. 

Make it real 

You may choose to take notes as people share. Update the plan and post the new version on the fridge. Remind everyone of the goals and agreements informally by noticing when people are living up to them and engaging supportively when they are not. Shoot for a 4:1 ratio on positive to constructive feedback.  

This process has not always been pretty in my house, but I have pushed through the teenage angst to the other side. A month in, I believe our conversations about potential individual and group social-emotional challenges have avoided lots of unhappiness. For example, I have been pleasantly surprised by how we are managing our space, cleanliness, and levels of parental oversite. At an emotional level, I am appreciating the connection we are creating. We rarely shared our emotional challenges and needs as human beings outside of our parent-child roles before these conversations. My wife and I certainly never invited our children to support us with our emotional needs. This feels like a different kind of family team bond. We believe this bond will serve us as we continue to face the uncertainty ahead 

We hope that this series has helped you start your own family meeting practice to support each other through the pandemic and beyond. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, we would love to hear from you at info@noblestorygroup.com. Stay tuned for our next series:  The Work Team Edition. 

Resource 

If you are interested in a ten-minute, entertaining video that will help you get the most out of your family meetings at an emotional level, watch EI expert Dr. Marc Brackett’s talk about his new book Permission to Feel.