Family Discusions -- Part One: The Family Talk

While problems within your family are not usually welcomed, they can be turned into an opportunity for learning and growth. When an issue arises, involve everyone in the problem solving process. A Family Talk is designed to discuss an issue when it arises or as a weekly scheduled time. A Family Talk is more issue-related and different than a Family Meeting, which focuses on decision making and planning for the family.

In Active Parenting of Teens: Parent's Guide, Dr. Michael H. Popkin provides some guidelines for holding a family talk. And while these ideas were written with teens in mind, the concepts can be applied to your whole family.

How to use Family Talks:

* Discuss values and attitudes in a non-confrontational setting
* Influence your children's behavior and help build their character
* Focus on specific topics, such as honesty, career choices, drugs, sexuality, television viewing, etc.

Tips for successful Family Talks:

* Plan how you will start the topic. Popkin gives the example, "The topic I'd like to introduce for this week's family talk is 'honesty.' Why is a person's word so valuable?" After your first Talk, choose the topics together.
* Use questions that will encourage discussion. "Why do you think it is important to...", "How do you feel when...", etc.
* Think about key issues you want to discuss beforehand. Do research on topics such as drugs or sexuality, if necessary. Be prepared with written notes to make sure certain issues are covered and to keep the Talk on track.
* Use resource materials. Find a video, book or article that can be used during the Talk to facilitate discussion and educate your kids.
* Establish rules for the Talks. Examples include speaking respectfully, compliment others, not interrupting others, not making fun of other's ideas, no name-calling, etc.

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