Family dinner“A TABLE!”  That’s French for “Time to eat. Kids, come NOW! Prepare your taste buds and your conversation skills…”

On December 31 the family was dispersed in six different parties.  On January 1, we all sat down for a meal together…and shared feedback on 2013 and insights for growing forward.  We call thisThe Family Annual Review.

We do this every year and it is AN AMAZING family moment that the children request year after year.  Read here for the “How To’s.”

Friends (who also are parents) exclaim, “What a great idea….but I’d be so scared.”  We’re giving you The Run Down so that you can get a feel for how it happens…and do it chez you too!

Since we have four sons, we’ve given each one a full post.  Keep clicking to the next post!  Each child is different (don’t you KNOW!) so you catch a different aspect of the exchange from each one.

Executive Summary

In essence, our eldest son asked me to be more clear about finances and who pays what.  My growth challenge to him centers on learning through humility.

The Run Down

Mom, sometime between the green beens and the cheese (meals chez nous are served in courses.  We’re American AND French!): “Hey guys, let’s do the review.  Who wants to give me feedback?”

Silence.

Mom: “Son 1 (of course I used his name, probably preceded by a ‘honey’), why don’t you start.  What is one thing I have done well this past year?”

Son 1 (19 years old.  Junior in college):  “I know I’m only supposed to say one thing, but here are two.  You have been very welcoming of my girlfriend coming to stay at our home (she stays i the guest room).  You’re becoming more flexible.  You have also been kind in driving me back and forth to school (he comes home some weekends and usually takes public transportation…which takes 1 hr while, at no-traffic times, the car takes 20 minutes) on some short notices.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “I’m glad we have been able to coordinate schedules so that we can do those runs outside of rush-hour.”

Son 1:  “…and to change, two things too! (meek grin)  First, consider letting my girlfriend and I sleep in the same bed at home.  And second, you’re not clear with the financial budget.  When I come to you with exceptional expenses (contact lenses, pharmacy purchases…) you say those are in the budget, but when I worked out finances with Dad we did not include funds for that.  So, I feel like I’m paying for too much.”

Mom:  “About the girlfriend, I hear you.  You know that we have different perspectives on this and I’m not willing to change (yet?).  So what is the budget exactly?…. (Discussion to clarify)…well, let’s get that written down and put it in The Binder (THE PLACE where we store family ‘contracts’, kids’ friends’ phone numbers, forms we’ll need in two months and  wonder where to keep in the meantime…)

For reimbursements, talk to me like you do with receipts.  You usually do so when my hands are full of soap suds from the dishes…so I’ll put Post-It notes in the kitchen drawer on which you can write an IOU and stick it on top of the stove.  That way I’ll remember to pay you back.”

Son 1:  “Thank you.”

Raclette family mealMom:  “My turn for feedback to you.”  (Yes, all the other boys are listening…and eating.  We get a few ‘Pass the _______’ as we’re going along.)

“What you have done that is really great is to develop a relationship of confidence with your Chinese tutor.  (He helps a Chinese student with French and English…and with cultural adaptation.)  From time to time you tell us of his surprised (horror-stricken) reactions to events at school.  The entire family has benefited from your sharing those insights.  And what it shows about you, is that you have been able to secure his trust so that he can express both positive and negative observations with confidence. That’s GREAT.”

Son 1: “Yeah, it’s been interesting for me too.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “Regarding growth for next year, be humble.  You’ll be studying in Asia for 6 months. Life doesn’t happen the same way there as it does in Paris.  We French are known for being aggressive and arrogant…and you have exhibited those attitudes in the past.  Being humble means purposefully listening and learning.  Be like a sponge:  take in before squeezing out.”

Son 1:  “I hear you.”

That’s good enough…it’s even wonderful!

NEXT SON…

In this series:  Family Annual Review Peek-a-boo

Enjoy the whole shebang!

  1. To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.

Family Annual Review How To’s

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