Family meetings are an excellent way for people to smooth the rough edges of life together. And I love Rachel Miner’s suggestion of each person talking about a mistake they made and what they learned from it too:

We start our family meetings with compliments. Each person gives each of the other family members a compliment. Not only does this help us focus on the positive, it also helps us recall times during the week when we admired each other. About six months ago, I was thinking about the growth vs. fixed mentality* and decided to add one more thing to this intro, a mistake. So, each person also shares a mistake that they’ve made during the week and what they’ve learned from that experience. The goal here is to make mistakes OK and recognize them as part of the learning process. I want my kiddo especially to see how common it is for grown ups to make mistakes and how the important thing is how we respond to those opportunities.

It’s crucial for kids to learn that people of all ages make mistakes routinely — and that the sensible response is to recognize and correct those errors. Absent explicit training in that process, kids learn to “manage” their mistakes by dishonesty — meaning, by denying their mistakes, concealing their mistakes, ignoring their mistakes, and rationalizing their mistakes. That’s disastrous, not just for a person’s life but also for his character.

If you’re interested in more, I published a paper on this very topic in the Journal of Value Inquiry back in 2004: False Excuses: Honesty, Wrongdoing, and Moral Growth.

  • David Elmore

    Though it is obviously good for all adults and children to understand that making mistakes is okay to be happy, the understanding is an organic process of everyday life, not one that is punctuated by meetings — which are not necessary for kids raised by objective adults who are constantly honest, just, independent and integrated. The primary objective (no exaggeration) of parents should be to help their children always keep their eyes focused on reality (facts and values). What I’ve found by doing this with my nine-year-old child is that she easily judges herself, me, other kids, and adults with great ease. Livy and I breezily judge the words and actions of those around us (and ourselves) on an hourly or daily basis when we are together. She has a mind that is nimble and focused. We make mistakes and we call each other on them. And we correct them. An interesting aspect of this relationship is that she doesn’t just see me as daddy; she regularly calls me Dave. This is healthy. To her, I am that loving trusting person named Dave, and at other times I am daddy. As a consequence of the above, Livy does not automatically see adults as automatic authority figures. She sees herself as an authoritative figure with fewer facts about life for the time-being. She listens well to adults, but the facts being offered to her must go through her filter. She is aware that her opinions may change when she has more facts, and she is aware that she occasionally over-generalizes with too few facts, a common occurrence with young minds dealing with induction. We talk about this fairly regularly so that she becomes more aware of her mind and its processing. Holding “meetings” is an admission of not doing the above.

  • David Elmore

    Though it is obviously good for all adults and children to understand that making mistakes is okay to be happy, the understanding is an organic process of everyday life, not one that is punctuated by meetings — which are not necessary for kids raised by objective adults who are constantly honest, just, independent and integrated. The primary objective (no exaggeration) of parents should be to help their children always keep their eyes focused on reality (facts and values). What I’ve found by doing this with my nine-year-old child is that she easily judges herself, me, other kids, and adults with great ease. Livy and I breezily judge the words and actions of those around us (and ourselves) on an hourly or daily basis when we are together. She has a mind that is nimble and focused. We make mistakes and we call each other on them. And we correct them. An interesting aspect of this relationship is that she doesn’t just see me as daddy; she regularly calls me Dave. This is healthy. To her, I am that loving trusting person named Dave, and at other times I am daddy. As a consequence of the above, Livy does not automatically see adults as automatic authority figures. She sees herself as an authoritative figure with fewer facts about life for the time-being. She listens well to adults, but the facts being offered to her must go through her filter. She is aware that her opinions may change when she has more facts, and she is aware that she occasionally over-generalizes with too few facts, a common occurrence with young minds dealing with induction. We talk about this fairly regularly so that she becomes more aware of her mind and its processing. Having “meetings” is an admission of not doing the above.

   
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