Monday, September 7, 2009

Family Meeting

At dinner with friends who don’t have children, my partner and I were talking about the family meeting we’d held earlier that day. The meeting had been fairly productive, and had not disintegrated too quickly into name calling and stomping out of the room. We were pleased, overall.

Our friends thought this was quite amusing. A family meeting?

“You’re joking, right?” asked one of our companions.

“Oh yes, it’s funny alright,” my spouse said, “The only family meeting we ever had growing up were the ones where the back of my dad’s hand met our face.”

My own parents never hit me without making a formal announcement of my impending spanking.  It was never heat of the moment. But I recall so many painful "family meetings" from my childhood.

One sprang to mind: All of us gathered around the Buick parked in my grandparents' Florida driveway.  It was early morning, a couple of days after Christmas.  Dad threw a protracted cuss-word-filled tantrum over how the suitcases wouldn’t fit in the trunk because we'd packed too much stuff and we were greedy ungrateful children with too many goddam presents.

Is it more evolved to sit down with one’s children and offer everyone a chance to have their say? Or is it better to lay down the law, back it up with some shouting, be prepared to pull off your belt?

I was walking home from the grocery store today and as I rounded the corner I heard a child crying full out.

“You hurt my feelings!” she wailed, as her mother leaned over to see what was the matter, “You hurt my feelings bad!”

“I’m sorry,” the mother began, kneeling, “Tell me, honey.  What did I say that hurt your feelings?”

I continued walking, happy that this child's mom was trying a gentler way. So often, when I witness a kid pitching a fit, I cringe as I watch the parent jerk her arm, or pluck her up and drag her outside, or slap her right there in the doorway to Best Buy:

“Quit your crying right now. Quit it. Or I’ll…”

photo courtesy of Flickr, author Crimfants

1 comment:

  1. On point, The Onion on the same topic:
    You'll have to paste the link...