I am a mother of 4 – 2 boys and 2 girls aged 14, 12, 9 and 5. I learnt from psychology that there are 4 parenting styles, I personally opted for the authoritative style of parenting. This style of parenting requires for parents to set standards and principles in the home, let the children know what these standards and principles are and then guide the children to attain these.
As I did more research on this method, I stumbled upon something called FAMILY CONFERENCING and I started this in my home. We started this Family Conference a while back and we try to do it every Saturday especially during the holiday when everyone is back from boarding school.
During our family conferencing, we speak about EVERYTHING. We talk about and catch up on our week, we talk about growing up, mistakes we the parents have made and what we learnt from it, we discuss values and morals, we discuss the economy, and what is going on in the country. We have even discussed homosexuality and lesbianism in our family conference!
I will not quickly forget the day we discussed homosexuality. That day, I had no idea how to broach the subject, I was quite nervous so I just started talking round in circles, until my daughter – who was 11 at the time and in JS 1 asked me, mummy are you talking about homosexuality? She started telling me of a girl who was caught making sexual advances at a fellow female classmate in school and the fallout that presented. That gave me an in road into the conversation proper and we had a really fruitful and engaging conversation with my husband and I doing our best to answer all questions they had.
During family conferencing, we discuss who didn’t do what during the week and why the person didn’t do what he or she was supposed to do. Anyone who didn’t do a chore will have to stand and defend themselves in front of everyone giving reasons they didn’t do it. I also give my children an opportunity to say what they feel about how we their parents have behaved towards them in the course of the week – did I spank someone and the person thinks it was unjust? This was the time they bring it up and I explain or apologize (as the case may be). I use this to tell them the importance of being open and truthful with their parents, I teach them that their parents love them so much and are their best friends.
This family conference has really helped us with family bonding. We have become really close since we started this. We don’t have any secrets between us with this method. We know we are ONE FAMILY and that we have each other’s backs and can surmount anything together.
A lot of people who have seen the success of this family conferencing in my home keep asking me “what age can I start this in my home” and I tell them no age is too early! Start as soon as the child can talk and walk. The child now grows into this tradition. So he or she may not fully understand what is going on but he/she knows that we gather with daddy and mummy and we all talk. Ask him/her to say what he/she wants to say to daddy and mummy. It may be funny and seemingly useless initially but you are building a tradition that the child will grow with and imbibe.
Family conferencing has worked for me and I highly recommend it to families out there.
(Story from Nonye)