FAMILY MEETINGS

Colbert did a piece on family meetings a few nights ago.

I looked at Garry. “We didn’t have family meetings. The closest thing we had were family fights. I bet you didn’t have family meetings, either.”

He looked at me. “You knew my parents. Can you imagine my mother having a ‘family’ meeting? It boggles the mind,” he commented.

I nodded. “I don’t think our generation had family meetings. The closest thing we had were probably large family get-togethers, during which we tried to keep hostilities from turning into violent shouting matches.”

Our parents told us what to do. We either did it, fought about it until we gave up — and then did it anyway — or said we would do it knowing we would really do the other thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but being sneaky was not considered “lying.” It was more like survival. Making it to adulthood with independence intact required a good deal of prevarication. If you only did what you were “allowed” to do, you would become a pathetic shadow of one or both of your parents.

Growing up meant developing individual opinions and direction. Our parents weren’t necessarily interested in our opinions. About anything. Being sneaky meant you could save the inevitable face-to-face confrontation for something really important.

So, no family meetings. No rational group discussions of what the family should do … or even what we personally could do. Instead of meetings, we had arguments, fights, low and high-level hostilities … and plenty of sneaking around.

Family meetings? Like me, mom, dad, Matt and Ann sitting together and logically — and politely with good humor — discussing our collective and individual futures? Not. Really.

33 thoughts on “FAMILY MEETINGS

  1. Let’s see…. my Dad worked nights, my Mom worked evenings, and us kids had to go to school during the daytime. If we’d have ever decided to have a family meeting, it would’ve gotten canceled right off the bat due to conflicting schedules…

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  2. lol sounds like “Father Knows Best” fantasy time. and ultimately painful for someone. The only family meetings I ever heard of were in the movies, or in books. Usually on the order of “daddy’s lost his job” or “Uncle Billy has been arrested” or “We got a letter from the headmaster…”

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  3. There was no such thing in our day. Perhaps the squabbles, fights, yelling matches, disagreements, hiding and prevaricating were an answer in and of themselves. People released pent-up energy and hopefully didn’t labour under grudges? Every family is different. However, I’m delighted I was able to have family meetings once in awhile (not as often as I’d have liked) but whenever something important was discussed, we made sure the entire family was there, present and accounted for. I’m pleased my kids didn’t live the life I did.

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    • My son was just one, so family meetings were called “dinner” or any time both parent and the kid were in the room. But then again, we didn’t have that much to argue about. If everyone isn’t angry all the time, you don’t need official meetings. You just talk to each other. What a concept!

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      • In my house, we had open communication, there were few secrets and when the kids were mad and upset, it was dealt with immediately, as well as the fun times. Mind you, I insisted on sit down dinner at the table and we talked then, or whenever the kids needed to. It was understood that we had an open line of communication, and it was always available. so “meetings” were only necessary if an emergency arose. When the ex left, no more emergencies so we talked all the time we didn’t need to schedule anything. Not that I did before that, but what can I say, is it the kids always knew they could come to me, about any topic and if they required privacy, then I got them privacy.

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        • Yes, but that was YOU. Growing up was a very different story.

          Anyway, as parents, we didn’t have family meetings. There were only three of us and that was a level of formality we didn’t need. If the kid wanted to talk, he found the nearest location where two parents were sitting. If he wanted to get ONE parent to agree so he could then finagle the OTHER parent to agree, he’d try to find one of us alone. It didn’t work very well, but it was worth a shot. At some point I remember his father telling him he would have to give up lying or get a LOT better at it.

          He got a LOT better at it.

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      • Like you, our mandatory family meeting was dinner. All manner of problems were supposedly solved and secrets divulged. If it had not been that my mom was a great cook “dinner” would have been pretty much unbearable. Dad attended these events but his agenda was mostly to gross out my mother and otherwise annoy the rest of us. My sisters’ jobs was to attempt to embarrass me with things that went on at school that day.., you know, girl things etc.

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  4. I recall the CONCEPT of the ‘family meeting’ being tossed about a few times. My religious background makes all things ‘family’ mandatory. My own biologic tree people are highly dysfunctional and the idea of a meeting (providing someone could get Ma to shut up for five minutes) of all of us together, especially after we children were over the age of puberty, boggles the freakin’ mind. Now we children are in our 50s and not much has changed. One of us lives on the West coast and the other two of us reside on opposite ends of a smallish town. We see each other on holidays and the odd marriage of a child; but other than that politely (sort of) nod and pass each other. We don’t have much to say actually and all those non-family meetings left scars…

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    • As I said, we had family fights. We also had individual fights between any two given member of “the team.” My broth and I got along pretty well, after we got into older child years, but it took me until adulthood to realize my mother and I could get along. NO ONE got along with my father. I left home early and stayed gone.

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  5. For the most of the first 20 years of life my family mostly consisted of only 3 people, me Mum and Dad – all at home once work/school stopped Family meeting = family life but not a lot of any deep importance was really discussed – i think i was largely expected to pick up important stuff via osmosis?

    Maybe why i’m more of a writer than a talker? 😉
    love

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    • I just think we all grew up with parents who were not comfortable with the concept. My parents had additional other issues, so family meeting? Seriously? Getting through a day without screaming, yelling and pain was more than enough.

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      • My Parents grew up in a world where children were meant to be seen, not heard, and largely only seen for short periods of time at a set time of day.

        Considering where they came from it’s hardly surprising the ‘family meeting’ is largely a myth i think.

        love

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  6. The one and only family meeting I remember is when my grandmother started showing signs of what we now know is dementia. Based upon the ugliness of that meeting, I’m thinking it was a good thing we didn’t have them. Yes, those days could be defined as parents dictated and children followed through. My, but things have changed in that area of daily life. 🙂

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    • My kids paid almost no attention to our suggestions — even our supposed orders. They would nod and act like they had heard us and then go on, completely ignoring the whole thing. With a little eye-rolling to lighten the conversation. They were not afraid of us. Not even a little bit.

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