We’re having a family meeting

Kristine Gill

Suppose something major is going on in your family: The dog is on its deathbed; the firstborn is choosing a college; the peanut butter recall has forced Mom to revamp the family menu. One way to approach these scenarios is to allow the head of the family to make a decision and inform the others.

Examples: “We’re putting the dog down,” “You’re going to Kent State,” “We’re eating bread and jelly.” However, negotiation, or at least discussion, is probably the preferred solution, especially considering Fido wants a chance to testify to his quality of life. Historically the way to handle such discussions has been to hold a family meeting.

How corny. I’ve never had the pleasure of attending a family meeting, but I imagine someone designates a place and time and alerts the other members. Then, at the said time and place, the family gathers to discuss something important.

Mom: “I called this meeting to order because someone continues to leave the toilet seat up.”

Dad: “I think it’s our son.”

Son: “I think you can both shove it.”

Mom: “I’m glad we were able to talk about this openly.”

Family pet: “Bow wow.”

I guess there are legitimate reasons to hold such discussions. Serious financial crises, death and family vacations affect everyone, but the idea still gives me chills like that damn “Seventh Heaven” jingle. Corny family habits trigger my gag reflex. If a family needs to figure something out, they should make it impromptu. A functional family shouldn’t be afraid to hold heated debates when an issue arises. Feel free to do it over dinner, in public or late at night on the front lawn.

I will never hold family meetings. Important news or issues affecting my family members will reach said members via inter-office memos only. Meetings are dumb. People plan them so they can put off dealing with an issue until the meeting time comes up. When it does, they delegate tasks regarding the issue to several other people at the meeting with intentions of meeting again “soon” to discuss findings. My family will act, not talk about acting. We will be doers.

If you find yourself facing an upcoming family meeting, these suggestions should make it more bearable.

1.) Insist on taking attendance.

2.) Before discussing new business, motion to approve minutes from the last meeting. If minutes were not kept, hold a trial to determine who was at fault before moving on. Example: If Dad is holding the current meeting and 75 percent of the family agrees Dad should have taken minutes during the last meeting, the current meeting can be ended as Dad’s punishment.

3.) Pass out meeting agendas with the family crest in the letterhead.

4.) Raise your hand before speaking. Make eye contact with the speaker when he or she is speaking, and act concerned.

5.) Hire a translator if you have a family pet in attendance.

6.) Sleep.

Kristine Gill is a junior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected] for minutes from the last family meeting.