We are at the start of 2021 many have made resolutions for goals yet to be achieved, with belief that a commitment has been made to keep that resolution. It is said that many people break them by February.
With another lockdown well into full swing, schools only opened to key worker and vulnerable children, many are at home doing online learning and it can be stressful.
As a single parent of a teenager at college who unfortunately was caught up in last years GCSE non-exams saga, he too is having to endure another lockdown, however, this time instead of being left high and dry has embarked on the course that he wants.
A few weeks ago we had a family plan meeting, due to his age it covered things relevant to him. Before the Christmas break, I had highly professional mothers come to me for advice on the challenging behaviours of their sons. The age range varied from parent to parent however after hearing a few accounts of what they had been going through my advice was having a family plan.
I have been doing the family plan with my children for some time. My daughter who is independent and currently abroad called me this week to share her plan into my family plan. At times, her plans clash with mine in respect of her cat Versace whom I am currently looking after now.
Our travel plans have been limited over the last 9 months and any future trips would only be for essential reasons. My parents come into my family plan because I visit as often as possible and I need to know my children are ok with my plans as it pertains to the family. They are used to it now. In times when I have not been free to visit my parents, my daughter goes to make sure all is well and reports back to me.
The family plan we feel in my household is important as we know the direction where each one is going, having a plan, timescales, support, acknowledgement when we need it and check ins along the way. This creates opportunities to talk and know how each other feels. For me it is family first and I co-parent with my sons’ father and when my daughter was younger the support was from her paternal family as her father was absent.
You may find along your parenting journey that you need support. You need your children in a safe environment while you may need to be away. You know your networks and it is good if your children have good rapport with them also. The worst thing is to leave your children in an environment where they feel unwanted and unsafe. So, having reliable people is a benefit to your family plan, should you need it. I have had times when my children have stayed with my family support networks and it has worked out for us all. Keeping contact while away is essential as children create wild ideas, it is always good to keep in touch and let them know your safe as well. Coming back to happy children is paramount.
The outcome is to establish what are your plans for this year and the the plan to work for everyone. Hear what the child has to say is so important to the process.
For younger children ask the questions and they can draw their response and give them the opportunity to explain/describe what they mean. Make notes of their accounts to add to the plan.
E.g. Dear ……
I hope this note finds you well. In 7 days on the 5th of Jan 21 at 17.00 our annual family plan meeting will take place. See you at the dining table. The Agenda is as follows
What are your plans this year for ? =
Relationships (he is 17 soon)
Thoughts on vaccine
Give them a few days to think on what you have asked and see what they come up with. Encourage your child to write their thoughts down, if they can articulate themselves and voice their thoughts then makes notes of what is said. Most parents have a plan for their child’s life some do, but some do not discuss the plans at all. Your home environment should be a place where the household can share their feelings without screaming at the top of their voice, slamming doors all to be heard.
Create the right environment where people can share their feelings thoughts and ideas without being crushed or ridiculed. Let us come from a place of love at nurture to see our children through this pandemic to still create a life for themselves and parents remember we have a life too.
E.g., my son does not enjoy home schooling, he much prefers to be in college. Help your child resolve those negative feelings and help them come to terms with their feelings and what they can do about it. The answer he came up with was to complete the worksheets given online and be patient. His words not mine.
Ask what needs to happen to reach the end goal. I think this is great for correcting negative behaviour. What needs to happen differently. Can you see yourself achieving the goal? Describe how it feels, what they see and write down things they would be saying to themselves.
Parents share their plan at the end, identify any clashes, express feelings, have a resolution. Agreement the plan will work and all parties to do their part.
This year my plan covered home, career, feelings, children and hopes. We get to discover information from each other, whether things are good. Do things need to change. My son asked me if I was lonely as I did not have relationships in my plan. I was able to express that I am not lonely, I do not have those feelings for someone in my space. I asked him if he would like someone to move into the house and live with us and he said no. So therefore, for me it works for us. It is so important you create a plan that works for your household.
After our quality conversation about where we are both heading, what we want, how we plan to achieve it etc. Is there anything else?
Hopefully, you have been able to have a good conversation and gained more information than at the start of the meeting from each other. Is there anything else? Is a powerful question. When I asked my son this, he said to have more talks on a level. What that means is he is growing up, not to cushion things but to be real, I do not have all the answers, but I am saying I will be here through this pandemic to support you, to talk, to appreciate what we have and still can work on achieving goals in life.
Create positive outcomes for yourself and your children is the end goal even through tough times like this. Keep your family strong and together create better relationships.
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Ruth Carter The Liberty Coach.
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