Originally Posted by eilonwy
I'm curious about your family problem-solving philosophy. Would you mind sharing a bit more?
I guess in a nutshell we operate by democratic consensus. We have a tradition of family meetings, where we all get together in a spirit of collaboration (i.e. not when people are angry or resentful, but when everyone is happy and has been plied with yummy drinks and snacks -- usually once a week). And anyone can raise any issue ... and we talk our way to solutions by brainstorming, humour, perspective-taking, trial and error and so on.
Typically we'll go through a range of silly and not-so-silly proposed solutions. We'll hone in on one or two that seem reasonable to most of us. We agree to try one or two changes for a week, then re-evaluate. There's magic in that week-long trial. Honeymoon periods usually wear thin after a couple of days, so it's long enough to see if it's got long-term validity. If there are people who are reluctant to agree, they only have to give it a whirl for a week, at which point they've usually either changed their mind, or can honestly say "this really isn't working for me, because ___." That goes for me as much as for the kids. Often they'll propose solutions that I think can't possibly work; but my kids are free to prove me wrong, and I only have to agree to a week if it doesn't work out as they'd hoped.
The other thing that I find very helpful in our family meetings is that we take the time to go through a checklist of family issues, even the ones that aren't currently problematic. That means we celebrate the things that are working well, learn from them, express appreciation for the changes that have occurred and aren't simply spending meeting-time dwelling on all the negative stuff. We have a five-item standing agenda of things we always touch base on: housework, nutrition/exercise/health, balance of in-home and out-of-home time, academic/musical interests and the upcoming week's scheduled activities. If there aren't any real issues with those, we just congratulate ourselves on doing well, make mental notes on what is working, and move on.
We very seldom if ever make decisions by parental fiat. Everyone's voice is heard. I think that helps prevent petty power struggles from developing between children.
Hope that helps explain!