I knew shortly after my daughter was born and my oldest son was 2 that I needed some help with parenting strategies. I was a frazzled young mom and the whining, pouting and crying had to stop (and that was just from my husband). Instead of going straight to freaking out I wanted to find something that was respectful to both me and the kids and luckily a friend introduced me to Democratic Parenting and some wonderful teachers who offer classes in our area. I have participated in many courses with Alyson Schafer and also with the Parenting Network’s Beverly Cathcart-Ross and Georgine Nash over the past several years and I will be forever grateful for their interpretations of the brilliant teachings of Alfred Adler. These amazing ladies equipped both my husband and me with mutually respectful and empowering strategies for tacking even the toughest of parenting challenges. And of course that is also why our kids are the perfect little angels that they are today ; )
One of the most amazing tools we regularly use from the Adlerian parenting model is family meetings. This weekly forum allows all of the members of our family to feel heard and appreciated and we often plan out family fun days, discuss things that aren’t working, lobby for things like allowance increases and cell phones or simply chat about things that are happening in our lives. I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works for your family. I’ve outlined our meeting plan below for you to check out:
Get organized. Take out the family meeting book, a pen and a talking stick (you’ll need to nominate a secretary to take notes and pass the talking stick around fairly).
Appreciations. Take turns going around the table and say one thing you appreciate about each person. Be specific. Instead of saying “I appreciate dad because he is nice” try “I appreciate dad because he took the time to sit down and play dolls with me today for an hour”.
Discuss agenda items. These can be things brought to the meeting or issues that have come up during the course of the week. You can put a piece of blank paper on your fridge with the title “Family Meeting Agenda” and then if something comes up like “Mom, Callum keeps spitting his toothpaste goop in the sink and not rinsing it out” or something more serious like “I feel like I’m not important in this family” and you are frantically making dinner right before hockey and dance practice you can say “I really want to hear all about this but I’m in the middle of something right now. Let’s put it on the agenda for the next family meeting.” Make sure that all items are resolved if possible and remember that you can simply try out a solution out for 1 week and then revisit how it’s been going at the next meeting. It’s also important that all family members agree on the solutions suggested.
End with a cheer. In our family every one puts their hands in and we say 1, 2,3 Family! (or 1,2,3, Burp or another silly word the kids throw in).
It was wisely suggested to me that family meetings be saved until after dinner in case things become contentious and someone storms off which can sometimes happen. We do our meetings on Sunday nights and I always try to have some tempting dessert to serve after dinner that will add extra incentive for the kids to sit and at least get through the appreciations which is sometimes as far as we get and that’s just fine.
This moist and delicious chocolate cake is decadent, a crowd pleaser and even manages to sneak in a serving of nutrient dense beetroots. A big glass of cold almond milk, a slice of chocolate cake and you can call this meeting to order!
Family Meeting Night Chocolate Cake with Beets (adapted from The Savvy Sister)
1 cup cooked chopped beets (approx 2 beets)
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
½ tsp xanthum gum
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp gluten-free baking powder
½ tsp gluten-free baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup coconut milk
½ cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ tsp coconut oil for greasing the pan
¼ cup icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350. Scrub beets and cut into bite sized pieces. Place in a shallow baking dish with enough water just to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil and cook for one hour until beets are soft and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool completely. (you can do this step the day before and pop the cooked beets in the fridge)
Grease a square cake pan with coconut oil.
Place cooked beets, syrup and vanilla in a food processor and whir for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times.
Whisk together flour, xanthum gum, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add beet mixture and coconut milk and stir to combine.
Add in sunflower oil and stir well. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.