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Pro-Active Parent Coaching: Facilitating the Family Meeting over Changing Roles and Responsibility by Gregory Bland

Apr 17th, 2010 | By | Category: Parent Coaching - Guest Posts

What a privilege we have to prepare our children for life beyond the shelter of our homes.  As our children mature, we have the privilege of releasing greater responsibility to them as they build a reservoir of experience and wisdom from which to draw throughout life.  Our goal, as parents, of course is to equip our children with the necessary life skills they will need when they launch out from the shelter of our home.

Our children’s natural & growing desire to carry responsibility, understanding of what it takes to run a household, live in relational community and cooperation can be encouraged from a very young age.  One way this can be accomplished is by simply including them in the daily operations of the household.  Something parents have commonly called ‘chores.’

The key difference with our suggested approach though is this, it is a collaborative family effort, as opposed to a parent unilaterally assigning tasks to each family member.

With the uniqueness of each child and member of a household, there will be natural attraction toward various tasks/functions within a household that is in keeping with their design, interests, and desires. Of course, there will be those items that no one “likes” to do, and it is these that offer us an opportunity to teach another important value. (more on that later)

The Family Gathering:

Prior to ‘calling’ a family gathering there are some basic principles to consider.

a)  Ensure you are in a healthy emotional state.  Your own attitude will greatly impact the tone of the gathering.

b)  If you are married, ensure that you are in agreement prior to the family gathering.  This is easily recognized by children.

c) Select a time and date which allows everyone to participate with sufficient uninterrupted time.

d)  Be clear about the purpose of the gathering.  Nothing can be more intimidating to our children than Dad or Mom calling a ‘family meeting’ and not sharing what the purpose of it is.  This leaves the children’s mind open to wander into unhealthy areas.  Be clear, it alleviates fear.


The purpose of a family gathering of this nature is to create a sense of community, belonging, and cooperation with the family.  It is an incredible way to release responsibility to our children, have them exercise their thinking capacity by exploring what it takes to run a household, and values them as an important part of the family.

Communication tips:

* Set the tone of cooperation and the sense that “we’re all in this together.”  This is a great opportunity to inspire our children with how important they are to the overall functioning of the household.  If you are a Dad facilitating this discussion, it is a great opportunity to honor Mom for the value she adds to the household, but also communicating that housework is not simply woman’s work.  To function healthily, it is a shared responsibility, which fits the unique nature of each person in the household.
* Honor and affirm their worth, value, and importance to the family as a whole.
* Honor the child’s maturity and be specific about the ways in which they have already begun carrying responsibility and added value to the household/family.
* Give ample time for the children to add to the conversation.  Honor their ideas and thoughts.

As you think about our household what things do you see that need to be cared for on a regular basis?  (Tailor to your personality)

Brainstorm.  (decide what will be the best method of marking down the ideas that are mentioned.  Personally, I like to ensure it is visible to everyone in the discussion so I use large sheets of paper.  Additionally, this is participatory, so allow everyone to have an opportunity to add to the list.)
Allow the children to think through and share their own thoughts.  You may be surprised just how much they know about what it takes to run a household.

When it seems like they have exhausted all of their ideas, ask again, “What else might there be that we have not considered ?”

When they have exhausted their ideas.  If there were items missed you can then add them, or ask further questions to draw them out.

Observing the List:

Take a few minutes and have the children observe the list.  I like to have them talk about what they see and why that might be important to the healthy functioning of the household.

The idea here is to expand our children’s thinking when it comes to the responsibilities of running a household.

Have the children consider the following.

:  How often do each of these things need to be done?
Daily, Weekly, Monthly.  (You may label them as such to keep the visual reality present.)

Ask: Tell me what things you may enjoy doing and are willing to take responsibility for.   (Take the lead.  Choose something yourself, simply so they know you are not trying to offload all the work onto them.)

Allow your children sufficient time to consider and respond.  (We have found that our children have sometimes chosen to work in partners on various tasks.)

Thought to consider: Be aware of potential opportunities in the day to day operations of your household that may naturally lend themselves toward relational connection and teachable moments.  For example, dishwashers are very handy, but spending the time washing dishes together can be a great opportunity for conversation with our children.

No doubt, there will be some less than desirable items on the list that are not quickly picked up.  In our home this is dog droppings on the lawn.  This is a good teaching moment.  Although it’s not desirable, we cannot ignore it.  Someone has to step up and serve.  It is with these items that we choose to ‘serve’ one another because of our love and commitment to the family as a whole.

Ask, what item on this list are you willing to do as an act of service/love for the benefit of our family?

I’d suggest that you take the lead in the less desirable areas, (like stooping and scooping) which gives you the ‘right’ to ask others to follow your example.    The idea is to create a healthy family atmosphere, not get our children to do all the work for us.

When those less desirable elements are cared for you move toward calling for accountability.  As you lead into this, affirm again the process to this point.

* Thank them for their insight, ideas, discussion, and willingness to carry responsibility.
* Affirm that their participation in this way will contribute to the overall health of the family.
* Tell them how proud you are of them today.
*  Other affirmations:

Now that we recognize what needs to be done, and have committed to it, how can we make sure that we follow through with our commitments?
Allow them time to think of ways to ensure work is done.
(Charts, printouts, fridge magnets, etc.)

When several ideas are presented, then move to making a decision about the one you will experiment with first.

You could say.  ”You have mentioned some great ideas here.  What would you like to try first?”

When the family has decided on an accountability structure,  set a start date, and celebrate  together.

This has proven to be an effective way within our family of teaching shared responsibility within the household.  I trust that it helps you too.

Until next time,
Your friend and pro-active parent coach

*Gregory and Lynn Bland currently reside in Nova Scotia, Canada and are actively coaching, writing and developing a course to train parents in Pro-ActiveParentCoaching.  Additionally they are providing interim pastoring for the Maritime District of the PAOC.  For more information check out Pro-ActiveParentCoaching or write to

Copyright 2010 Gregory Bland | Pro-ActiveParentCoaching | Nova Scotia | Canada |

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