A Family Contract

contractA contract is a mutual agreement between two parties consisting of an offer, acceptance, and consideration, memorialized in writing and signed to signify competence and adherence to the agreed upon terms. In Human Speak, it’s a piece of paper that says you get this, if I get that.

The point of a contract is to govern each of the parties wants and needs in order to move forward with the actual service or trade. This same principle applies to families, especially those with teenagers. Parents want to keep their teenagers close, protecting them from the harm of the outside world so they can hold onto their childhood just a tiny, bit longer. Teenagers want to “spread their wings” and are excited about inching closer towards complete independence. Thus, the conflict arises.

One such conflict arose during a recent Tutoring session with a new client. See, clients often call me for Tutoring but I quickly realize there is more than just an academic concern that’s creating the conflict. In fact, 80% or more of the time there is underlying conflict between the student and the parent or the student and the teacher, which is contributing the academic problem. So, we must address those relationships first before any book learnin’ can get done! And we did exactly that just the other week. The Parent, Teenager, and myself had a Family Meeting and hammered out the details of what each party wanted. It was cathartic, productive, and most of all sustainable.

The Family Meeting session looked like this:

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Family Meetings

Oyez, Oyez. In the name of good communication and solid family bonding, I respectfully call upon all families to begin holding weekly family meetings.

Remember when your dad used to call up the stairs and tell everyone to come down to the kitchen for a family meeting? No? Me neither. Maybe that was just on Full House but I certainly agree with Danny Tanner, so much so that I’ve added a new Family Meeting Service to my Family Coaching practice.

To put it plainly, I thFamily Meeting Imageink we’ve all just plumb forgot how to communicate with each other. There’s no doubt that all the iPads, iPhones, and iPods have led to an I, I, I world ~ a me centered family dynamic. Even so, when I walk into my clients’ homes and lead a Family Meeting I see a lot of love, a lot of genuine concern, a lot of fear and frustration but very little communication. We must start talking to each other again! Parents will confide in me and express concern for the fact that they don’t know what their child is thinking or how they are feeling about a school situation or even a traumatic family event. I will ask them in return, “Have you asked them how they feel?” Nine times out of ten, the answer is “No” or “Well, even if I asked, he wouldn’t really tell me what’s going on.” We must get out of our defeatist rut and start getting into the nitty gritty of our family’s lives.

During a recently held Family Meeting, we laid out the relevant family rules and created a uniformed schedule. Then I opened up the floor to each member of the family. Instead of talking to each other, however, they were talking about each other. Turns out this dynamic had been going on for years. Each member of the family just sort of  forgot how to talk to one another. Getting those lines of communication rewired is the key to understanding each family member’s needs, and when those lines of communication were finally opened each person felt heard and loved.

This weekend I encourage each of you to give this family meeting thing a good old fashioned try. Put on your listening ears and hold a Family Meeting of your own. You’ll be amazed at what a little time together can actually reveal.

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And don’t forget to head on over to TerryTutors.com or give us a call at 310.254.0909 for more info about our Private Tutoring & Family Coaching services in the Greater Los Angeles area