When you're a bucket filler, you make the world a better place! Using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates in her book “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our own bucket!
Sometimes we forget this in our family relationships, at work and in the hectic pace of life. Living within a snow globe of swirling responsibilities, demands, checklists and choices is stressful. We need to stop and remember that life is a journey--not a race, a destination or a competition-but a beautiful journey to be walked, danced and enjoyed with those we care most about.
Our days are not something to survive, endure or merely get through but we are meant to enjoy and revel in our meaningful relationships. The world is changed by our example, not our opinion or words but how we live our lives!
So, this week, I challenge you to take time to let the snow globe settle. Make time to ask your daughter to tell you about her best friends at school and be present to her while she talks. Take your son to the hardware store and ask him to help with a project around the house. Cook dinner together. Go for a walk as a family. Use a meal time to talk about favorite family vacations. Call your son or daughter that is away at college. Make a lunch date for the next time they will be home. Write a text or mail a card to your adult children just to say you are thinking of them.
Read “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” tinyurl.com/y6zes5vb and talk about ways your family can practice kindness in your neighborhood. Watch the YouTube video “Grateful: A Love Song to the World” together. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO2o98Zpzg8 Challenge your kids to find other inspirational videos and Ted Talks to share with the family.
Buckminster Fuller, 20th century architect, inventor and visionary dedicated his life to making the world work for all of humanity. He said, "In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called."
We all have the opportunity to create amazing experiences, connections and memories in our families and in the process, we heal ourselves and influence those around us.
I learned an important lesson about fast food, focus, and the finality of many decisions we make. Rushing to my car, I placed the takeout package on the roof, unlocked the car, and pulled into traffic. Perceiving the honking of other drivers as pure road rage, I proceeded upon my way. It was amazing how long that meal clung to the top of my car before it flew under the tires of the F-150 behind me.
Our lives are full of decisions… and their consequences. They aren’t punishments. Nobody took my lunch, attempting to make me pay for my lack of focus. It was just a simple result of my lapse.
A few years ago, a tragic event occurred near our homes in Colorado. Some teens thought it would be fun to race around our mountain roads, taking turns “surfing” on the roof of their car. Is it possible these kids didn’t learn enough about the finality of consequences when they were younger?
Some who see themselves as more enlightened in the arenas of caring and compassion experience semi-aneurisms when they hear someone say, “allow kids to experience the consequences of their actions.” These are often people who care very much about kids who have experienced trauma and equate consequences with punishment. They also believe kids with trauma are capable… but not capable enough to learn from their actions. We’re confused. Do we want kids who’ve been hurt to remain victims, or do we want to empower them toward victory and self-esteem?
We agree that punishment, sarcasm, guilt, anger, and other negative practices do not work. We disagree that consequences (or “results”) aren’t appropriate for kids who’ve had trauma. Their effectiveness just depends on how closely attached they feel toward the adult.
Positive relationships form the foundation of all effective discipline. The safety and security this provides allows all children to begin seeing the connections between their choices, actions, and resulting consequences. Kids who’ve experienced trauma need to experience the results of their actions… even when it doesn’t appear they are making the connection. As they experience the calmness and trust of loving attachment relationships, this cause-and-effect learning will begin to happen.
When delivered with love and empathy, logical consequences help provide accountability. In many cases, an element of restitution can give a child the chance to feel like he or she “made it right.” Loving accountability can help kids feel the following:
I can solve problems.
All kids thrive when they embrace these beliefs.
So, we’ll charge ahead, continuing to upset those who view themselves as superior to most folks in the areas of compassion and intellect. We’ll keep holding kids accountable with plenty of empathy and grace, and we will treat them as if they are capable of learning from life’s results. We’ll just keep helping more families raise kids who feel good about themselves and their ability to thrive in this challenging world.
As I stated last week, the purpose of a weekly family gathering time is to have one evening each week where the family is the focus and priority. As simple as that sounds, it will not happen unless we reserve the time. Put it on your schedule just like you do with all other appointments. It can include a special meal as well: Taco Tuesday or Crockpot Chili Friday.
Family meetings can make a big difference. They can become the keystone to a happy, harmonious family life. Families who meet weekly find that siblings fight less, children argue less with their parents and there is less yelling and nagging! That is definitely an hour a week well spent. If you missed the WHY, read last week’s blog. www.coachmyrna.org/coachmyrna-blog/the-power-of-weekly-family-time
The purpose is two-fold: logistics and connections. Logistics are the nuts and bolts of running a family: what’s coming up next week, what is needed for school (special projects, requests for cookies, sports practice, music lessons, etc.) Connection is what life is all about. It is the love, the hugs, the emotional support, the delight and pride in each other. The connection with people who love us--that is what makes life worth living.
Joyful Parenting Coach Elisabeth Stitt suggests that there are four essential elements that make a great family meeting. First is a short sharing time. Each family member shares 1-2 sentences on a given topic: the best thing about my day/week, what I am grateful for, my most embarrassing moment, my favorite family vacation (5 minutes.) Second is a calendar check in about family logistics—what is coming up and who needs to do what (10 minutes.)
Third is a time of reading or discussion on a pertinent topic. It could be a short spiritual reading, a few pages from an inspiring biography/autobiography, The Book of Virtues or a favorite chapter book followed by a discussion. This is an opportunity to talk about/share stories of family history and values (15 minutes) Lastly, it is essential to do something fun. This could be anything from a quick board game to a pillow fight to hide-and-seek to charades. If you are just getting started with Family Meetings, use the first time to brainstorm ideas for future meetings (15-30 minutes.)
Using these four elements, you can be flexible and creative with family meetings. If your children are young, it may be about establishing a weekly routine without worry about the various parts. With older children, include them in the planning process for the weekly fun activities and reading/discussion topic. Creating new family traditions could be exciting. For ideas, check this blog entry: www.coachmyrna.org/coachmyrna-blog/july-12th-2018
Occasionally, the discussion time could be dedicated to resolving challenges between family members. Come up with your family’s own unique name for the weekly gathering if you like. Planning a family trip or summer vacation would be an excellent opportunity to discuss in order to get everyone’s input.
Things that we schedule are more likely to happen and having a regular time both for logistics and for connection as a family will make parenting less stressful and more joyful. What will your next family meeting look like?
Family is the foundation of society. History confirms it and every nation is built on that foundation. But the many changes and advances that our world has seen over the past 70 years puts a great deal of stress on family life.
In the words of economic visionary Stan M. Davis, “When the infrastructure shifts, everything else rumbles.” As parents, we need to reflect deeply on this and look at how we are prioritizing and leading our families in these changing times. I have come to believe that creating a space each week to invest in our families is key.
Holding weekly family meetings is not a new idea, but it brings together several elements that can strengthen your family and help things run more smoothly. When I was a teacher as well as a part of my church’s youth ministry staff, we had regular meetings that were an integral part of the success of the programs.
Every company, organization and non-profit rely on monthly or weekly meetings to make things function. Families need to create some order around work & school schedules, church activities, sports, music & dance lessons, doctor & dentist appointments, family vacations, summer jobs, household chores, volunteer projects and more. Meeting together once a week with a family calendar creates the necessary structure needed for harmonious living. In addition, family meetings enable everyone to be engaged in the process of building relationships, solving problems, creating connections and having fun.
For many families, the first hurdle is simply making time. In our busy lives, we can feel that family time is just one more thing to juggle. But shouldn’t this be a worthy challenge for all of us to strive for? Oprah Winfrey said, “I know what you’re going to hear from people is ‘We don’t have the time.’ But if you don’t have the time for one night or at least one hour during the week where everybody can come together as a family, then the family is not the priority.”
Whether you have never established a weekly family gathering or yours needs a little tweaking, I invite you to join me over the next few weeks as I guide you through some steps in making your family a priority. I agree with Stephen R. Covey when he says, “…I have come to feel that probably no single structure will help you prioritize your family more than a specific time set aside every week just for the family. You could call it ‘family time,’ ‘family hour,’ ‘family council’ or ‘family night’…Whatever you call it, the main purpose is to have one time during the week that is focused on being a family.”