Family Council Benefits - Leadership Laboratory
Value of mission, vision and goals – We developed family mission statement(s) with the children’s help which helped to focus our long term and annual goals. Individual goals were also share for family support and resources.
Organization and government skills – We treat the family as the based unit of society/government. In our family, each person as soon as they were capable represented themselves. They also learned how to organize to accomplish family tasks and share workload. Our oldest daughter, Kathryn called from college two weeks after starting school and asked us to send her the Family Council agenda. She said, “The dorm needs to get organized!” Armed with the agenda she put the apartment of girls in order for the rest of the year.
Conducting meetings with agenda - Our children quickly learned how to take charge and conduct meetings by making and following an agenda and by assigning and doing meeting assignments. Even the younger children learned how to keep the meeting moving by following the agenda with a bit of supervision.
Leadership and council management skills - The children have had many opportunities to share their management experience in conducting meetings and working with agendas at school and with Church youth groups. In some cases the children even lead out in showing a leader how to use an agenda. More than once youth leaders have commented on the support and joy it was to work with the children in the councils of the Church. School teachers commented publicly and privately to the leadership qualities and support they had received from the children.
The children became the leaders in their schools, Captains for various sports teams, class and school officers. We attribute this to their knowledge and confidence in leading, developed in Family Council. One example, while Kurtis was not a star football player, at the awards banquet at the end of the season, the Coach thanked this “Mormon boy” for what he, the coach, had been taught about the game of football and life from Kurtis. I was proud to be his father.
The children have used their council skills on church missions, in the regular councils of the Church and now in their own homes and employment settings.
How to lead out in groups – Given an assignment, even small children can learn to take their task seriously. Things like managing family prayers or assigning letters or communication to family members. They enjoy being looked to as part of the family team.
How small group dynamic work - We have a large family (eight children), so the council was an excellent place to deal with interpersonal relations and to provide team projects with special tasking. The annual Christmas caroling party is such an event where the skill of all are used from the cooking of potato donuts to preparing of other goodies, inviting the guest to join us and of course caroling.
How to use committees – With larger family projects, the use of sub-committees is very useful to present proposal to the Family Council. We have use it for planning events as part of vacations and planning family moves. We now use committees to plan the semi-annual family reunions.
Duties and Responsibilities - Each task/calling is given duties and responsibilities in the family Council as well as other family chores. Children quickly recognized their importance to the family unit as they reported on assigned tasks and delegated assignments. The whole family was counting on them and they were important.
Project development and management skills - The garden has always been an excellent project that was developed and managed by one of the family members each year. Counseling about what to plant and then tasking and managing the planting, watering, weeding and harvesting of the crops were part of the project.
Replacing a large retaining wall in the back yard was another example of planning and resource management. The boys were in high school and college at the time and with recruited friends they had a wonderful time building a three foot high “ L” shaped wall that was 250 feet long and with only a variance of ½ inch in height!
Planning and execution skills - The most extensive plan executed by our young family was the three week trip through Europe on the train in 1980. The seven children at the time were between 12 years and the youngest was less than a year. We developed and tested the plan for six months in Family Council and then executed. We discussed routes and things to see, how to travel, what to eat and where to sleep. The plan worked despite a few minor challenges. We had lunch with the little mermaid in Sweden, We sang Do- Re- Me as we marched around a fountain in Austria dressed alike. Susan got mastitis in Rome and missed the St Peter’s cathedral. We lost Karla at supper time in St Peter’s Square in Venice, Italy because she was feeding the pigeons. Kent missed a turn as we came out of the Notre Dame Chapel and was with the family as we continued our tour of France only because a friendly Frenchmen pitch the tired little boy off the subway into his frantic father’s arms. Note: this trip is a story of its own.
We have since used the council principle and modern technology to plan large family reunions every two years.
Financial skills - We discussed finances monthly in the councils and each child helped manage the family budget their senior year of high school. Even at a young age, budget reports in Family Council help to children understand "wants and Needs". As I retired from the military, we took the occasion to discuss the impact of reduced income on the family in Family Council. We discussed how all members could help adjust to the change in financial resources. It was amazing to see the support.
Sensitivity to other needs - Developing sensitivity to the needs and challenges of family members naturally developed into love and concern for others outside the home and many individual and family service projects This love of others has been felt and recognized by many groups.
Rules and Consequences - Establishing family rules and natural consequences help family members learn early that all actions or choices have consequences and family rules can help them to be happy while breaking rules or laws can make us unhappy. We found when developing consequences with the children was very forceful and beneficial. We had to discuss the principles of justice and mercy to develop a balance in understand the impact of our actions and learn from them.
Respect for authority - Since each child has the opportunity to assume various roles in the council, they learn to respect and support individual in various positions. They quickly learn that they will soon have the same responsibility and need the support of family members. Even the youngest family members, making prayer assignments, learn quickly the value of respect for authority in a position of responsibility.
Summary - Use the Family Council as a leadership laboratory. Most all family activities can be structured to provide training and skill development if carefully planned ahead of time. Maximize your resource investment for the future of family members.
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