One of the challenges of summer with stepfamilies can be the long-term presence of stepchildren in our home. When they visit every other week-end throughout the school year, it’s easy to maintain a friendly relationship. But living for several months in our home changes the relationship dynamics.
A helpful tool to begin the summer with and commit to on a regular basis is a family meeting. Coming together as a family offers everyone the opportunity to express their opinions about basic functions of the home including: chores, activities, and cooperation with one another. Begin the meeting with encouragement of the family unit and offer positive ideas on problem-solving and decision-making.
Holding a family meeting regularly throughout the summer gives family members the chance to resolve issues as they occur and present opposing sides to challenges that take place. If children know a meeting occurs every week at a certain time they can be assured of the chance to speak their mind regarding difficult interactions.
For family meetings to be successful, they must be consistent and intentional. Older children may resist them at first but will soon see their value. Allow the children to rotate who is in charge of the meetings and encourage everyone to participate. As parents, we should have the final say in decisions but can empower our children to brainstorm ideas for family activities and seek solutions to family disagreements.
End the meetings with a fun activity as a family. Go out for ice cream, play a board game, or enjoy a round of putt putt golf together. Solicit fun ideas that offer relationship building while creating family identity.
Have you tried family meetings? What other ideas can you offer for creating a summer of serenity?