Oct 5, 2010

How to Conduct a Family Rule-Setting Meeting

Objective: To arrive at a mutually acceptable rule or decision on an important family issue or situation.

Set the Stage
  1. Agree on a time when everyone who will be directly affected by the rule or decision can be present. (Involve only those affected).
  2. At the appointed time, sit in a circle (around a table) so that all can see each other. Have the "Family Rule-Setting Guide" or paper and pen available.
  3. Start by making sure that everyone understands the objective of this meeting. A parent might start off with something like: "I've called this meeting so that all of us will have a chance to decide on some rules we need about ________________ so that everyone has the best chance of feeling comfortable and happy with the arrangement. I want for all of us to work on ________________ together so we're all satisfied with the solution (or decision)."
  4. Make sure that all members understand Method III:
  • Parent will not use power on kids.
  • Parent will not let kids use power on parent.
  • Everyone must be satisfied with the solution.
  • This is not a subtle way to get kids to agree to the parent's rules.
Tasks of the Group
  1. State the family situation/s you want to deal with or build an agenda for the meeting,i.e., what situation/s needing rules or decisions will be discussed in which everyone contributes their needs regarding family issues or situations.
  2. Next, post or mention the six steps of the problem-solving process.
a. Define the problem by developing needs, facts and feelings surrounding the item.
b. Brainstorm as many ideas about it as possible without evaluating them; have a family member simply record them.
c. Then, evaluate and test the proposed ideas or solutions for reality, appropriateness, acceptability, etc.
d. Decide which ideas or solutions are to be adopted.
e. Record the decision in term of WHO does WHAT by WHEN.
f. Later, check to see if rule or solution worked. (This usually happens automatically. Reconvene the group if it turns out the rule does not meet the members' needs well enough (bad rule, not bad people).

Parent's Role
  1. Sees that tasks are accomplished, problems solved.
  2. Uses Active Listening to handle inevitable feelings that will arise as well as to clarify the meaning of other member's inputs when necessary.
  3. Uses I-Messages to express his/her own needs and feelings. Avoids You-Messages and Roadblocks.
  4. Leads the group through the Six Steps of Problem-Solving.
  5. Keeps the group on track by handling free associations or new problems by noting "That's another issue," and if applicable, adding it to the agenda for later consideration.
  6. Avoids voting; facilitates consensus by use of communication and problem-solving skills. When it seems consensus has been reached, tests for it by stating the apparently favored decision and asking "Any objections?"
  7. Is active, "hangs in there" for his/her own needs, respects other family members' needs, remains sensitive (Active Listens) to resistance and possible hidden resistance.*
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Adult Resource Book

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