We Are Hardwired To Connect

Neuroscientists have shown that our well-being depends on our connection to others. In fact, we are ‘hardwired to connect’.  Since our relationships with our children are some of the most important relationships we will ever have, why not create opportunities to nurture those connections, to nurture our children’s well-being?

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
~ Brené Brown

One way to connect with your children is to have regular family meetings. We started this weekly tradition when our youngest was a toddler. We met over dessert after Sunday dinner.

Need ideas on how to structure the meeting? We started with appreciations, which my husband and I modeled for the children, helping us all exercise our gratitude muscles. One of my fondest memories was watching our youngest give just one appreciation, to his best bud – our big white cat, Marshmellow.  We ended our meetings with a group hug (at least until they were teenagers LOL). There was often a palpable change in our interactions with each other when everyone had a chance to share good feelings.

In the middle of the meeting, we might have planned an upcoming vacation or a weekend outing. Family meetings are excellent opportunities to talk about schedules for the coming week, allowance, chores, screen time, and other household agreements. They can also teach children about respect and problem solving. Most importantly, family meetings give children a place to be heard and loved.

Other ideas for your meeting format can include:

  • Taking turns being the leader.
  • Reading the notes from last meeting.
  • Talking about old business.
  • Talking about new business.
  • Summarizing what everyone has agreed to do.

Once you have a routine in place, you can put the agenda on the fridge a few days before the meeting so everyone can add to it. I would keep the first couple meetings short and do something fun immediately after.

Would you like more information on ways to increase connections in your family? Check out The Parent Survival Basket, a 10-hour workshop offered privately or in a group at the Hallowell Todaro ADHD Center.

Rethinking Family Meetings

I have a lot of respect for the folks at Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life at Berkeley. As you would expect they often report on the positive aspects of parenting. Summer can be a chaotic time without the school schedule. One way to help everyone feel grounded is to have a family meeting once a week. I’m a big fan of family meetings. If you are new to the concept check out the FAMILY MEETINGS PDF I give to my clients to help them get started.

Here’s a recent Greater Good article promoting family meetings by Christine Carter, Ph.D., Rethinking Family Meetings:

Every year I rethink our family meetings at the beginning of the summer, when all of our routines are changing anyway, and this June has been no different—except that I recently read Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families, which puts a big emphasis on family meetings. (read more here)

And a short video:  Rethinking Family Meetings.