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.”
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.