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Parenting Tips – How Family Meetings Teach Kids to Think Right About Wrong

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Do you avoid family meetings because they're too structured? Perhaps you lack the time or don't know how to run them. Find out how easily you can hold family meetings and raise ethical thinkers too.

Family meetings are just family discussions with 3 special benefits:

They help kids think about important issues.
They help you parent effectively.
They unite your family.

When you view family meetings as family discussions, the meetings seem easier and less formal. For instance, let's say you want to discuss the topic of “cheating” with your kids. Maybe your family is gathered in the living room.

Why not create a family discussion by asking the following moral dilemma:

Pretend you have a friend named, Tom. He said he played a video game last night and didn't have time to study for today's math test. Now Tom is asking you for your answers. You know that Tom is lazy and that if you give him your answers, he'll keep asking you in the future too. You like Tom because he makes you laugh. You don't want to lose his friendship.

Use questions to help your children to see the problem from different angles.

The family meeting discussion could go like this:

Would you give Tom the answers? Why? Why not?
What other options does Tom have?
What different ways could you solve this moral dilemma for yourself?
Would you be willing to lose Tom's friendship? Why?
Have you ever failed to study for a test? What happened?

Points you might like to make during the family meeting:

Cheating is a form of stealing.

Letting Tom steal your answers creates problems for Tom. It promotes his lack of self-discipline. It teaches him to be dishonest. It encourages him to be lazy in school. It fosters stealing as a way for Tom to get what he wants. Other kids will disrespect Tom and call him a cheater.

Letting Tom steal your answers causes you problems too. You could feel angry with Tom for taking advantage of your friendship. You could squirm inside because you know you are helping Tom cheat and you are being dishonest too. You could both get caught and get in trouble.

Have your children role play the moral dilemma in several different ways:

Have your child give Tom the answers. Both children could get caught by the teacher.

Have your child tell Tom, "No."

Have your child come up with other solutions to act out.

The possibilities are many when you role play during family meetings.

Can you see how easy and how much fun it is to raise moral thinkers? Moral dilemmas help you practice your parenting skills while bonding with your children. Moral dilemmas prepare your child for life's challenges. Moral dilemmas build character too.

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