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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
That was really the best title for this thread.

Most of you read the monthly unschooling thread. We didn't make it up to the Staircase campground and Lake Cushman. Our alternate choice, made on the fly ddn't work out either, in a big way.

So often no one is getting what they want. What we do want is frequently completely incompatible or unworkable with what others want.

Time to plan and work things out is avoided (because--hey we are all having fun, we don't want to spoil it) until the moment comes when it all falls apart and the girls can't discuss it.

I'm working with our family counselor for ideas, and she understands our lifestyle enough to want to work with it. And certainly I have no attachments to rigidly adhering to any philosophy including unschooling, but of course, these are values of my heart and not my mind so I want to stay close.

I'm still looking for a way to introduce meetings with the girls (sans dad-- for now at least). Again, moods can be so bad that when spirits are high I want to avoid taking them aside from whatever they are doing, even for something merely sociable. Then one thing leads to another....

I'm ready for some new ideas to roll round in my brain. Counseling seems to be starting to help a little, and I think it would help further in the future. We are taking a "break" from homeschooling (mentally-- hard to really take a break from unschooling, eh?) and working on house and relationships. DD will be 11 in Frebruary, and very soon a "middle schooler" and adolescent and we want these issues to be in the background by next fall.

So toss some ideas and experiences at me. I'll try not to be grumpy about suggestions and how they "won't work" because of X or Y.

(Aside: I still need to get their Letters of Intent in to the school district. Ooops.)
 

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I dont know if this is what you are looking for, i havent been on this part of the board for a while and my head is foogy to say the least- end of disclaimer :)

Would you and the girls be open to a cetain meeting time every week- say weds from 2-3pm, get some fun snacks, pick a fun place and toss around ideas both short term and long term that you want to do. So for example kid1 wants a trip to the zoo kid2 wants the art museum and all 3 of you think pedicures would be a great thing to try out (short term ideas). OK so this week, you each pick one and reasearch costs, times, locations etc and report back next week. Long term ideas kid 1 wants to seee holidays lights at xyz place, kid2 wants to go ice skating and you want help 2 weekends in february with new ckicken coops. again over the next THREE weeks research, plan, dates cost etc and report back.

Seee how its cycles over and over and grows and grows. Maybe each person has a fancy journal to keepp these ideas or a new flashdrive if you use tablets.

YOu can meet at the kitchen table, the library, under that awesome tree down by the creek, whatever works for that week.

I have no idea if that helps but good luck!
 

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It really sounds like you need some family meetings. I understand the way they feel artificial, and they don't 'schedule' well for a family that doesn't normally gravitate to schedules, and that it's tempting to avoid dredging up contentious issues when things are going well. I still think you need them.

First, make the first couple of meetings about celebrating and learning from what's going well, rather than trying to solve your problems. Maybe ask everyone to share the best thing that's happened to them that day, and in the previous week, and this year. Express appreciation for what was enjoyed, for the memories, for the sharing; talk about what made those experiences so great. Maybe explore how you might be able to do more of that sort of thing, or create similar experiences, or apply what you've learned about what you like to other areas. Talk about areas of family life that are working well. For instance, I don't know ... maybe bedtimes just aren't much of an issue in your family lately. In that case, explain to your kids how much of a problem bedtimes can be in some families, with examples, and discuss why you don't have those problems, and appreciate how lucky you are as a family to have found better ways. And then talk about what you have to look forward to in the upcoming week, not to get into planning and prioritizing quite yet, but just to set the stage for future meetings where you may be doing some of that.

I think that tying meetings to food and mealtimes might help. Rather than scheduling a time of day, plan a special dessert for after lunch some day, and roll that out with a commitment to yourself that that's going to be meeting-time. If it turns out someone is in a really pissy mood, by all means, put it off a day. But don't feel you have to wait for the perfect moment of sibling happiness and then interrupt it with this weird new thing; you just need to avoid times when feelings are really raw and resentments are running close to the surface.

Also, I think that the magic of family meetings is not in any problem-solving techniques or actions per se. The magic comes from taking the time to hear and understand each other, and knowing that you are being heard too. That creates a foundation upon which collaboration and co-operation are more likely to occur.

Hope this is food for thought.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So far, for three days in a row we've all been at the dinner table, and today I will try to have a lunch together with the girls and I. It was a nice dinner, and the girls talked and lingered and mentioned a couple recipes they want to make and we decided Monday (Sat. pm and Sunday is work for me.) I told them to get it down on paper and on the fridge and figure out ingredients we should buy. It wasn't exactly the situation decided on one thing, but still it was communication and some brainstorming about other things. Happily, it all happened organically. I had mentioned to dh what I was hoping to achieve (yes, agenda-- without an agenda? :p )

I'll work on keeping that up, and I'll work on making lunch into something similar as much as possible.

Thanks for the advice so far. I know, Miranda, I've been trying to find a place for family meetings for a very long time, but I'd mostly given up. They just didn't want to be with me (us) like that. Now they seem to enjoy it.
 

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Just curious why you want to do them without your dh?

Other than that I am not really sure. I try to do something similar to what zebra mentioned, but my girls are younger, one is super easy to please and my life is just different altogether. Sounds like you've got an idea though and you're already working on things with a counselor.
 

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I understand very well why a husband might not be required at a family meeting...my husband had no use for that sort of thing! As homeschoolers we spent a lot of time together, most of our weekends, supper together, and very often a picnic lunch was taken to husband's work place and we ate by the pond there. But family meetings...no. He was invited, he declined. Eventually we decided that the meetings didn't work that well for us...we were already saying everything anyway, we didn't need a more formal structure to discuss anything else. (When the kids got to be teens, every one of them spent a year or more specifically avoiding any family interactions, closed up in their rooms, eschewing any contact! My youingest is the oldest to sort of be in that state now; her own interests and her peers are the framework of our life; our house is the culvert she lives in...;) )

Deborah
 

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Just curious why you want to do them without your dh?
In SweetSilver's case, I believe they're in the midst of negotiating a marital separation. One of those "it's complicated" situations.

My family also did most of our family meetings without my dh though. Why? Because he played no role in the things we were discussing and it would have been boring for him, not to mention very difficult to find time to meet. His work hours are a bit more humane now, but we were often limited to 2-3 hours in the mid- to late evening when he could be around, but could also be called to work on a moment's notice. Not the best time for the kids for a meeting, and 95% of the stuff we needed to hash out was stuff that didn't involve him and didn't affect him in the slightest: the kids' activity roster away from home, the travel arrangements, the prioritizing of activities, their music practicing and activities, the interpersonal conflict over the course of the day, balancing playdates and structured time and so on ... all while he was at work. The remaining 5% of stuff that could conceivably affect or involve him we would save to talk over with him when we had a family meal, but there wasn't enough of that to schedule regular family meetings.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You aren't wrong about the motivation for leaving dh out of it, Miranda, but I think the primary reason is his tendency to get to a "solution" and a "point", and also, well (one reason for the tenseness and need for separation) I am more relaxed and less self-conscious without dh there. It's incredibly complicated, and personal, and I don't need to explain that further except to mention it.

But I think what everyone else can get out of it is that where there is a strong agenda, there is a strong kickback, and even more sensitively as kids enter the teen years as transpecos mentioned. Pulling together, and making it pleasant to pull together, needs to be the only agenda. That gives us strength (and I desperately need to find sources of strength and so do the girls) and a good foundation to move out into the world from.

The most natural time to begin, though, seems to be at dinner, and so I have had to resign myself to dh being there and dealing with the overt issues I have with it, and the inner, personal issues I have, which is probably a good thing. So I had a talk with dh about what I was seeking from it, what I mentioned above. I had to define the difference between an underlying agenda (bringing the family together, letting the girls have their voice) to a meta-agenda (solving specific issues, etc.) But he was on board. He has been far more receptive since we have been having our difficulties, I think because he has decided that a relationship with me is more important to him than any specific definition he has for "us". I am thankful for the change, but it has come at great expense.

Anyway, that is far off the subject, but I tend to need to find an outlet for what I'm dealing with, and writing seems to be a better one than face to face, not only because that is difficult logistically right now, but it gives the person in front of you no choice. Writing seems to be less intrusive, as the reader can look away without appearing rude.

So, hopefully I have explained, added something to the conversation, and given an update all at the same time.
 

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Thanks for the openness, I didn't mean anything negatively by my question, I just have started wondering what it'd be like to parent as a team and you mentioned what you mentioned. I've always been single since oldest dd was 4 so I haven't really imagined what it's like to unschool in a relationship style family until recently.
 
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