Tag Archives: family meetings

Should I Talk to My Children about My Mistakes? (Dr. Richard C. Horowitz)

It can be tough talking to our children about the mistakes we made growing up, especially when a direct question deserves an honest and authentic answer. Dr. Richard Horowitz offers some excellent insights and tips on how to handle situations like these.

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Should I Talk to My Children About My Mistakes, Dr. Richard HorowitzDoes talking about the mistakes I make and have made in my life weaken me as an authority figure to my children?

This question speaks to the core issue of modeling. That is acting in a manner we wish our children to act. On one hand, as role models for children, parents want to present themselves as being pretty terrific people. When children look up to us it meets our needs for love and belonging. When children are obedient and follow parental advice the adult’s need for power is met. We associate these interactions with highly positive words like respect and admiration.

However, sometimes being on a pedestal can be a precarious place. We might want to mask our frailties in order to preserve our image of perfection. The fear that our children might lose respect for us if we admit weakness can lead to a loss of ourselves and a model that our children just might perceive as unattainable. A child who feels s/he can never equal his/her perfect parent loses self-esteem and will often give up trying. This is the downside of being the perfect role model. This is especially true for younger children who tend to aggrandize the power of adults in general and their parents in particular.

Adolescents by the very nature of this stage of development are far more prone to question the capabilities and judgment of parents. Parents with adolescents who are dealing with the “hot topics” are especially vulnerable to questions about what they did when they were teenagers. As long as it isn’t overdone, most parents find that their children enjoy hearing stories about what it was like when they grew up. Consequently, our children want to know how we handled the challenges of personal freedom, partying and dating. The challenge is to respond in a way that is authentic and validates the concern of the child without giving them the message that since their parents pushed the envelope and wound up alright, they too can indulge in these behaviors.

Below are some suggested ways to respond. However, remember that the parental response should be sincere and be the product of some adult reflection about our true beliefs and values on these topics. Teenagers have a good sense of what is “real” to them and if we sound too perfect or preachy they will shut us off.

What I did and the mistakes that I made should not be an excuse for your decision-making.

The legal consequences for some of the behaviors I indulged in were not as severe as they are today. (This is especially true for possession of controlled substances.)

A lot more is known today about the physical harm done to our bodies due to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.

The consequences of unprotected sexual activity can be deadly.

If I knew then what I know now I would have behaved differently.

The price I paid for my excesses were ……………………….

What we really must focus on is how to get your needs for freedom and fun met with few negative consequences.

 

The other side of the coin is the parent who constantly gives voice to his/her own shortcomings. Either through blaming others and/or themselves for things not working out as planned they model a victim or helpless role. This extreme can create a sense of anxiety in a child. The message they receive from the helpless parent is that the world is a scary place with little ability to control what is happening in life.

Family Centered Parenting, Dr. Richard HorowitzThe middle ground is what we should be striving for. Our children need, for their sense of well being, to experience their parents as sufficiently masterful to create a safe place for them. Young children, as mentioned, will naturally view their parents as powerful figures so we really don’t have to stretch the issue with excessive self-praise. However, children do need to develop resiliency – the ability to bounce back from adversity. We learn how to be resilient through modeling and experience. Parents who acknowledge an error or problem then take responsibility for its solution are demonstrating resilience to their children. They have not attempted to hold the impossible standard of perfection as an indicator of self-worth but have modeled the reality that things do go wrong and mistakes happen. The key is not indulging in self-pity and, after acknowledging the fact that something has gone wrong, acting in a way to make things better.

A related issue is how we deal with our mistakes when it specifically regards an action we took with our children.

An illustration might be useful.

Martha came home from work at her usual 6:00 p.m. time only to find that her 12 year-old-son Ron was not at home. There is a standing rule in the family that if Ron is playing at a friend’s house after school he is to be home by 6:00.

 

Martha is annoyed and starting to get a bit worried about Ron. At 6:30 she starts calling Ron’s friends. On the fourth call she reaches his friend Wayne’s mother. She says that Ron is with Wayne and they are working on something in the garage and she will go get him. Martha is really angry now that her fear has subsided. She tells Ron to get home immediately and that she will deal with him when he arrives at home.

 

When Ron comes in, Martha immediately tells him that the rules in the house, which he agreed to, required him to be home at 6:00. She is quite direct and tells him, “Go to your room until dinner. After dinner we will process what went on.” Ron protests, “You are unfair, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Martha replies, “Get to your room, you are on Shut Down until after dinner.” Ron is obviously furious but complies.

 

After a rather unpleasant dinner, Martha says she is ready to talk. Ron tells his mother that two days ago he had told her about working on the school project with Wayne until 7:00. He reminds her that she was talking on the phone and he came into the room and said excuse me and asked permission to go to Wayne’s the day after tomorrow to finish a science project. He said that she nodded her approval.

 

Martha listens and does remember the incident. She was on the telephone talking to her sister about a relationship issue and was quite absorbed in the conversation. She vaguely remembers Ron saying something about a science project but she thought he said that he had to call Wayne to discuss it. Martha now has a choice. She can stonewall her son with comments like. “See what happens when you interrupt me when I am on the telephone” or she can admit that she misunderstood him and ask for his suggestions on how this type of situation can be avoided in the future.

 

Certainly the admission that an error was made and that she is sorry that she assumed that he had broken a rule instead of first asking for an explanation will serve several purposes. First, Martha models for her son that people make honest mistakes and when they realize it, they will take responsibility for correcting them. Second, the dialogue between Martha and Ron is now problem solving oriented, involves Ron in decision-making, and shows how feedback can be used to make improve a family practice or system. Martha’s admission and willingness to communicate is a good example of putting Family Centered Parenting into practice. ###

 

Dr. Richard Horowitz is better known as “Dr. H,” The Family Centered Parenting Coach. His book is entitled, Family Centered Parenting: Your Guide for Growing Great Families. [website]

 

Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home (Guest: Christy Monson)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkAuthor and retired family therapist, Christy Monson, shares why quality communication within the family is so very important today. We present “Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home.”

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CMonsonphotoEveryone’s in a rush today. It seems that authentic and meaningful communication with others is a vanishing skill. Even handwritten letters have given way to quick emails, quicker texts and hasty tweets.

Few of us have enough time to spend meaningfully with others, and it probably shows.

Families Aren’t Immune

Families are not immune to this “abbreviation” of communication. In many instances, loved ones needing our presence, our time, our words and our support don’t get nearly enough. Oh, families remain intact, but without the strength and bonding that could be there. This is most realized when an emergency or difficult circumstance affects the family.

According to our guest on this program, retired therapist and author Christy Monson, families that focus on becoming synergistic, and put the work into making it happen, not only handle the tough times better, bonds within the family grow stronger and stronger.

A Family Council

Giving a Child Too Much Power, Christy MonsonOne important activity of synergism is the family meeting, or Family Council. When family meetings are scheduled, and the time and effort for having them are honored, children learn how their presence and input matters. They learn the facts of family finances and how to set and realize goals. And they learn that conflicts and problems can be resolved, because walking away is not an option. Indeed, family meetings can teach dozens of insights and skills that children can practice for a lifetime.

In this program, Christy discusses the benefits and payoffs of synergistic families, and she takes us through the steps of establishing, conducting and maintaining the Family Council. Her experience and personal examples will make it meaningful.

Christy Monson

Christy has authored many books and articles that support and strengthen individuals and families. In this program we’re featuring her book, Family Talk: How to Organize Family Meetings and Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships. (27:48)

http://www.ChristyMonson.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Having “The Talk” About Drugs (Dr. Richard Horowitz)

How does a parent talk to their son or daughter about drugs? Dr. Richard Horowitz, The Family Centered Parenting Coach, offers some excellent guidance in this article entitled, “Having ‘The Talk’ About Drugs.”

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Dr. H: Recently I have seen a number of TV commercials urging parents to speak to their children about drugs. My son is 12 years old. How do I start the conversation?

 

Dr. Richard HorowitzParents often feel uncomfortable about discussing the “hot topics,” namely drugs/alcohol and sex with their children. Waiting for the so-called right time often means starting the discussion when the issue arises as a problem. Unfortunately, this is often too late. Therefore, it is important to establish a comfort zone within the family for discussing a wide variety of topics.

A Family Meeting Approach

I recommend holding family meetings on a regular basis to resolve family issues, set rules, and plan for the future. When these occur, bringing up the tougher stuff fits in naturally as just another subject for conversation. In other words, the process of dialogue is already established, making all issues easier to talk about.

Specifically, in your situation, after several meetings have been held and all members of the family are more at ease with the process, you can open the discussion about drugs. I would start with a hypothetical question that is relevant to your child’s life. For example, I might ask, “What would you do if one of your friends offered you a drag on a marijuana cigarette when you were hanging out at his house?” In addition to practicing specific coping strategies in advance of a potential situation, the door is open to talk about drugs in general.

Family Centered Parenting, Dr. Richard C. HorowitzDo Your Homework

A note of caution: Be prepared for the discussion by acquiring accurate information. Children, especially adolescents, turn you off if what you are saying is either exaggerated or not consistent with what they have learned both at school and on the street. So do your homework by researching available databases and publications for information that can be passed on to your child as factual. In addition, make sure the adults in the family are clear about what message they want to send about experimenting with drugs. The youngster will sense any ambiguity you might be experiencing.

Handling Their Questions

If you experimented with drugs while you were in high school or college, be ready with an answer when you child asks you if you ever tried drugs. There is no right answer for this. Some parents try to deflect by saying that the question is not relevant to their children’s decisions. Although probably accurate, children usually hear this as a tacit admission that their parent used drugs.

The other approach is to say that, precisely because you as their parent might have made mistakes when you were younger, the children can learn from those mistakes. To reinforce this argument, a parent can point to factual information that proves that the marijuana smoked 25 years ago was much weaker that what is out there today. Furthermore, reputable studies are demonstrating that drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents can affect brain development in the prefrontal cortex, a later maturing area of the brain that helps control impulses, regulate moods and helps us to better organize our lives. ###

 

Dr. Richard Horowitz is better known as “Dr. H,” The Family Centered Parenting Coach. His book is entitled, Family Centered Parenting: Your Guide for Growing Great Families. [website]

 

 

Teaching Virtue in an Election Year (Dr. Daniel Trussell)

Dr. Daniel Trussell, How Families FlourishNo matter which candidate you support, there is no better time than a presidential election year to teach older children and adolescents about civic responsibility, critical thinking, and integrity. These activities all characterize people who live the good life, those who report the highest level of life satisfaction and happiness. Therefore, teaching virtue in an election year is very much worth the effort.

A “Themed” Family Meeting
If you’ve read my articles in the past, you know I am a strong advocate for regularly scheduled family meetings. Family meetings are a time to celebrate successes, compliment achievements, problem solve challenges and explore individualized family values. You might consider a family meeting themed around the presidential election.

One way to approach the discussion is to ask your child what they observe about each candidate’s performance during debates, forums, news bites and advertisements related to character traits the candidates’ exhibit rather than on their political platforms.
While this may seem a daunting task, here are some tips to help you guide the conversation.

Six Societal Virtues
Seligman and Peterson identified six virtues that can be found in virtually all societies. These include:

WISDOM- acquiring and using knowledge
COURAGE – accomplishing goals in the face of opposition
JUSTICE – building community
HUMANITY –befriending and tending to others
TEMPERANCE – protecting against excess
TRANSCENDENCE – connecting to the larger universe

Each virtue is demonstrated through consistent character strengths of an individual. Let’s look at those strengths.

How Families Flourish, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Daniel Trussell, PhDFor WISDOM, the strengths are a love of learning, discernment, curiosity, originality (approaching problems in new ways) and perspective.

COURAGE includes integrity, persistence, bravery and vitality.

JUSTICE involves teamwork, fairness and leadership.

HUMANITY manifests through generosity, loving and being loved, and social/emotional intelligence.

TEMPERANCE embodies forgiveness and mercy, humility, self-control and prudence/discretion.

TRANSCENDENCE encompasses appreciation of beauty in all things, gratitude, hope, spirituality and humor.

While no person exemplifies all the strengths mentioned above, it is helpful to identify the top and bottom strengths of an individual. For your family meeting conversation, you might want to look at the top three and bottom three strengths of each candidate from both parties.

A Few Ground Rules
If your family is not skilled at family meetings, some ground rules are worth mentioning. Family meetings need a rigid start and stop time where all family members are present. Once the meeting time is set, it can’t be changed unless there is a life or death emergency, so plan accordingly. No personal devices are to be used during this or any other family meeting (turn off TV or music, don’t answer phones etc.)

Each member gets an opportunity to identify the strengths of each candidate, without interruption, comment or judgment from the other family members. After everyone has had a chance to talk, a more general discussion can begin.

The time factor in family meetings is very important.  There is much less resistance to family meetings when they start and stop promptly. If time runs out before everyone has finished, it is better to schedule an additional family meeting (same time, next week) than to extend the meeting.

A Nice Surprise
You might be surprised to learn how your kids are reacting to and absorbing the campaign information they are exposed to. The purpose of this family meeting is not to persuade anyone to come to your way of thinking but to learn about each individual’s personal reaction to this exciting electoral process. It only happens once every four years so let’s grasp the opportunity!

 

Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com. [website]

 

Family Centered Parenting (Dr. Richard Horowitz)

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Dr. Richard Horowitz shares his concerns about the challenges of child rearing in today’s times, and he outlines an effective and meaningful family-centered approach to parenting.

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Parenting can be a difficult, tough and demanding job. After all, our children don’t arrive with instructions. The task of being a parent often is through trial and error, with successes and mistakes being part of the process.

RHorowitzphotoThere’s little doubt that the structure of the family has changed in recent years, putting more challenges on parents than ever before. The good news is that most parents want to do their best in raising and instructing their children and in managing the challenges that crop up along the way.

Our guest on this program, Dr. Richard Horowitz, is the founder of Family Centered Parenting. He has experience and insights on managing critical issues affecting parents today. He will also share how our overall philosophy of behavior and how we communicate with our children can make a tremendous difference in the quality and success of parenting outcomes.

RHorowitzbookphotoDr. Horowitz has been working with children, schools and families for over 35 years. As a professional educator and agency provider, he has filled a variety of roles including teacher, school administrator and CEO of a case management organization. He and his wife, Jane, founded Growing Great Relationships, a coaching/training practice to help families, educators and family support providers who work with young people to face the challenges of parenting, schooling and creating a stable family life.

Dr. Horowitz, a highly evaluated presenter and trainer, is the author of Family Centered Parenting: Your Guide for Growing Great Families. (25:56)

http://www.growinggreatrelationships.com

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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A Mother’s Gifts: A Message to All Moms (Christy Monson)

BTSpotlightI asked Christy if she would share this story as a special tribute to Mother’s Day. I first read this story about her grandmother, Nana, in her book, Family Talk. (That’s Nana with the much-younger-at-the-time Monson children in the photograph below Christy’s picture.) –JDS
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As mothers we have significant influence in our families. Many times we give gifts of light and love to our families that we don’t even notice. As we bless the lives of others, we find that we are strengthened also. I have found this to be true, especially when problems arise. There are always situations that don’t run as smoothly as we would like or unexpected circumstances that disrupt our plans and even our lives.

CMonsonphotoHere’s an example that happened in our family.

A Priceless Legacy

My ninety-nine-year-old grandmother, Nana, lived in our home. We loved and enjoyed her. All of our children took part in her care. They helped with her meals, played games with her, read to her, and rolled her wheel chair outside into the sunshine so she could watch them play soccer. When problems arose, we sat down as a family to decide how we would handle the difficulty.

Nan and the Monson Children 002Nana always liked to be busy, so the kids came up with the idea of giving her the clean socks to match. That was a wonderful idea, and it kept her occupied for long periods of time. She left us the priceless legacy of not only being part of the group, but also being a contributing member of the family right up to the time she died.

One afternoon I went into her bedroom to see if Nana had awakened from her nap, and I found that she had passed away. Shock and disbelief wafted over me. I spent a few minutes sitting in the living room, pulling myself together before the children came home from school. What was I going to do? How would I handle the situation?

After everyone had arrived home, we sat together as a family, and I told the children Nana was gone. They were all grief-stricken. Each of the children expressed their feelings differently. Some wanted to go into the bed room and say good-bye to her. Others decided to remember her when she was alive. We all cried and shared memories.

After sharing our initial grief, we talked about the things we had to do—the coroner, funeral arrangements, and notifying relatives. Everyone took an assignment and pitched in to help. By the time I went to bed that night, everything was arranged, and I felt peaceful. There was an added spirit of love in our home that everyone could feel.

Shared Experiences; Life-long Memories

It’s now been quite a few years since Nana died, but whenever we refer to it, all of our children have significant impressions of that day and time. It’s indelibly fixed in our memories as a spiritual, soul-expanding experience that has made us all stronger individuals.

Look at your own family. Find the times where you have given gifts of love, listening, and sharing of feelings that have made a difference in your lives. See where you have created that synergy with the generations past and the generations of the future. The world is a better place for your goodness.

We honor you on this happy Mother’s Day. ###

Visit Christy’s website [link] for more information on her books, free downloads on helping children through divorce, death and tragedy, and other pertinent information for helping children become the best the can be.
To access Christy’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right, entering “Christy Monson.”

 

Family Talk: Creating a Synergistic Home (Guest: Christy Monson)

CMonsonphotoEveryone’s in a rush today. It seems that authentic and meaningful communication with others is a vanishing skill. Even handwritten letters have given way to quick emails, quicker texts and hasty tweets.

Few of us have enough time to spend meaningfully with others, and it probably shows.

Families are not immune to this “abbreviation” of communication. In many instances, loved ones needing our presence, our time, our words and our support don’t get nearly enough. Oh, families remain intact, but without the strength and bonding that could be there. This is most realized when an emergency or difficult circumstance affects the family.

According to our guest on this program, retired therapist and author Christy Monson, families that focus on becoming synergistic, and put the work into making it happen, not only handle the tough times better, bonds within the family grow stronger and stronger.

Family Talk BookOne important activity of synergism is the family meeting, or Family Council. When family meetings are scheduled, and the time and effort for having them are honored, children learn how their presence and input matters. They learn the facts of family finances and how to set and realize goals. And they learn that conflicts and probles can be resolved, because walking away is not an option. Indeed, family meetings can teach dozens of insights and skills that children can practice for a lifetime.

In this program, Christy discusses the benefits and payoffs of synergistic families, and she takes us through the steps of establishing, conducting and maintaining the Family Council. Her experience and personal examples will make it meaningful.

Christy has authored many books and articles that support and strengthen individuals and families. In thie program we’re featuring her latest book, Family Talk: How to Organize Family Meetings and Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships. (27:48)

 

http://www.ChristyMonson.com

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Family Centered Parenting (Guest: Dr. Richard Horowitz)

RHorowitzphotoParenting can be a difficult, tough and demanding job. After all, our children don’t arrive with instructions. The task of being a parent often is through trial and error, with successes and mistakes being part of the process.

There’s little doubt that the structure of the family has changed in recent years, putting more challenges on parents than ever before. The good news is that most parents want to do their best in raising and instructing their children and in managing the challenges that crop up along the way.

Our guest on this program, Dr. Richard Horowitz, is the founder of Family Centered Parenting. He has experience and insights on managing critical issues affecting parents today. He will also share how our overall philosophy of behavior and how we communicate with our children can make a tremendous difference in the quality and success of parenting outcomes.

RHorowitzbookphotoDr. Horowitz has been working with children, schools and families for over 35 years. As a professional educator and agency provider, he has filled a variety of roles including teacher, school administrator and CEO of a case management organization. He and his wife, Jane, founded Growing Great Relationships, a coaching/training practice to help families, educators and family support providers who work with young people to face the challenges of parenting, schooling and creating a stable family life.

Dr. Horowitz, a highly evaluated presenter and trainer, is the author of Family Centered Parenting: Your Guide for Growing Great Families. (25:56)

http://www.growinggreatrelationships.com

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

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Creating a Family Charter (Guest: Dr. Daniel Trussell)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFamilies that flourish do well because they work at it. These are families that demonstrate love and respect for all family members, right down to cherished pets. They manage the ups and downs of life with a stability that keeps the family on solid ground. There are rules and guidelines for each family member that are understood and respected.

More often than not, however, these rules and guidelines are verbal; they are not written down.

But why shouldn’t a family have WRITTEN rules and guidelines? If they were committed to a written document, couldn’t this make a strong family even stronger? Our guest on this program, Dr. Daniel Trussell, certainly believes it does. He’s here to tell us about The Family Charter. A good Family Charter explains, clarifies, directs, protects, encourages and empowers each family member. For a family, it’s both a job description and a map. Whenever there’s an issue, decisions aren’t made on the fly or hastily contrived in a moment of frustration and anger; it’s right there in The Family Charter. Dr. Trussell will walk us through the steps of making a Family Charter that benefits everyone involved.DanielBook

Dr. Trussell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and positive psychology coach who has spent his career helping individuals and families reduce and prevent mental health problems using a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, applied positive psychology and mindfulness training. He is the CEO of Webstar Behavioral and author of the new book, How Families Flourish: A guide to Optimal Family Functioning Using Applied Positive Psychology. (28:16)

www.webstarbh.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

COMING SOON: GPS Your Best Life (Guest: Charmaine Hammond)