As we near the end of the school year, it seems like more decisions need to be made: what will we do this summer? Will we take a vacation? If so, to where and for how long? How much money do we have to spend? Will the kids go to camps? Can we take any time off? Just making that list exhausts me...not to mention actually making the decisions.
And, of course, decisions must be made all year. Families are no strangers to decision making. Yet not all families make decisions successfully. Sometimes one person just chooses what he or she wants and that's it. Other times the kids make decisions. Some families have a family meeting to discuss options (more on family meetings in a future post!).
No matter what your past style of family decision making, here are some tips for improving the process.
FIVE PRINCIPLES TO HELP FAMILIES MAKE DECISIONS
- Create a sense of justice by treating family members equally, regardless of sex or power resources. Even children who do not have much influence can be treated with respect.
- Create a sense of autonomy by respecting each family member’s rights to free choices in order to carry out actions that enhance their lives (this includes giving adolescents a full understanding of consequences of approved options and letting them decide and then face consequences). Not everyone has to agree. And that's okay! Most people simply want the right to feel how they feel. Seek to understand each other before determining whose ideas feed the end goal best.
- Create a sense of caring by helping other family members achieve their goals (even if they aren’t OUR goals). If someone brings up an unrelated issue during a discussion, make a note and be sure to get back to it. Our spouses and children will be so glad we took their concerns seriously!
- Create an awareness of which decisions lead to actions and behaviors that harm family members or put them at risk. If someone is fearful of a particular option, don't go that route. If a family member feels at risk, trust plummets.
- Create a sense of loyalty by keeping promises. James 5:12 says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no." This means that we do what we say see will and don't do what we say we won't. So think carefully before saying yes or no!
As you can see, these strategies require some family time. Designate someone to take notes. We have a sliding glass door and we occasionally use window markers to make notes there. It's a fun way to keep a visible record of our ideas. If everyone's ideas go on the board, then everyone feels valuable. And we are all valuable.