Just what are the dynamic of leaving your legacy? According to our dynamic parenting and relationship expert, Dr. Miranda Fernande Walichowski, clear communication, action, and timing are tantamount
The rapid changes enabled by technology pose a fathomless divide between valuing innovation and valuing preservation. This is most evident with Generation Y (children born between 1981 and 2000) and Generation Z (children born after 2001). Generation Y has never known a world without computers. As babies and toddlers, Generation Z is more attracted to their parents’ iPhones and iPads than to baby rattles. Both of those generations have been conditioned to tolerate things while waiting for the 2.0 and 3.0 and 10.0 versions to be released. As parents how do we inculcate the value of preservation of worthwhile things in a generation that seeks constant change?
On a visceral level, as parents, we think that we want to be remembered beyond our lifetimes. The words of Marcus Aurelius unveil what we truly desire: “In the end, what would you gain from everlasting remembrance? Absolutely nothing. So what is left worth living for? This alone: justice in thought, goodness in action, speech that cannot deceive and a disposition glad of whatever comes, welcoming it as necessary, as familiar, as flowing from the same source and fountain as yourself.” And how true that is for most of us.
HAVING A FAMILY GATHERING
What we desire is to leave the essence of ourselves behind and not just a fleeting memories of who we were. What we desire is to live a life well-lived that continues to make the world a better place, after we are gone. We desire to leave a legacy. I am not sure what fosters the creation, the preservation, and the transmission of a legacy more than regular family meetings. These are the benefits of regularly-held family meetings:
- Creating opportunities for immediate and deep communication and connection
- Fostering cohesiveness and a sense of solidarity
- Allowing you to confer your faith, culture, principles, values, and traditions
- Giving your children an expansive understanding of life, as they benefit from the wisdom and experiences that have shaped you
- Enabling you to parent with intentionality instead of by default
- Creating a vinculum in which problems can be solved and difficult topics can be discussed
- Engendering memories that will be cherished by your children
GOALS FOR SUCCESS
Are you ready to invest in family meetings? Here are some ideas on delivering the family meeting. First, let go of expectations and the desire for immediate results. The illusion of what a family meeting should look like will thwart one’s best efforts. Do not expect your children to begin grappling with and unraveling philosophical problems, for hours. Do not entertain a perfect vision of a family reading and discussing the manifestations of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Your five-year-old might not be ready for that.
Instead, see the journey of the family meeting as the goal, as the desired outcome. In this case, let go of being results-driven at least initially. When your children do not have buy-in on the family meeting, they will not be fully engaged. When you have children who vary in ages, these meetings will require deliberate planning, so that they are easier to manage.
Family meetings can be held weekly. The practice of holding family meetings can start with 15-minute meetings and increase from there. The structure and logistics of a good family meeting are unique to your family. Consider whether you should include food during the meeting? For some families that is the how they create immediate buy-in. Location matters. Are your children more focused when sitting at a table? Alternatively, do they prefer to meet in a more relaxed space? A little forethought can make for a better meeting.
The discussions and activities that you and your children incorporate to the family meeting are dependent on the uniqueness of your family. However, I suggest that you create a flexible structure to the family meeting. Children do best when there is an element of predictability. The following are a few suggestions for your family meetings:
- Sync Calendars – If nothing else, this is a golden practice. This practice reduces stress during the week. This practice allows everyone to see how the week will unfold given everyone’s’ commitments.
- Gratitude Share – The research in positive psychology indicates that the simple act of practicing gratitude increases the emotional well-being and the happiness of individuals.
- Set Goals – It is important for children to learn how to set short-term and long-term. As parents, you can facilitate that process. Moreover, you can also provide reminders and provide accountability towards those goals.
- Didactic Parenting – Be instructive about what matters most to you: your faith, your principles, your values. This is not a carte blanche to deliver a 1-hour exegesis. It is true that our children learn much from our examples. However, an element of deliberate instruction is needed. Please remember that these topics are best delivered in sound-bites that invite discussion.
- Learn Together – The possibilities for this are endless. I would encourage you to allow your children input on the topics that you learn about. You can read and discuss books. You can learn about the history leading up to various current events. You can learn and use new words.
- Acknowledge and Encourage – Provide a forum to share what various members of the family are doing. As parents, we tend to focus on areas for improvement with our children. However, it is equally important to seek and acknowledge the efforts that children take to do things well.
- Problem Solve – As you establish an environment that is supportive to your children, you will find that trust, vulnerability, and corporation increase in the home. Eventually, the family meeting will serve as a place where difficult conversations can be had. And more importantly, you will have a structure that will engender solutions to anything that your family confronts.
You do not need to dust-off Robert’s Rules of Order. You do not need a gavel. You just need a desire to give your children your greatest gift, your legacy. Your legacy comes replete with your principles, your values, your experiences, your advice, your dreams, your faith, and your love. Only you can leave your legacy, so start creating and conferring your legacy today.