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jimrich

A family meeting

I wonder how many ppl have tried a family meeting to work out problems with each other? How did it go? Did problems get solved or get worse? Were you happy with it, unhappy, frightened, humiliated, bored, ANGRY? How many meetings have you had and is there any progress? Would you recommend family meetings to solve issues?

Our family had 1 (one) meeting when I was about 13-14 after our mom got fed up with all the trouble and her church suggested it. She went back to attending the Mormon church and began getting feedback on the problems in our family and her Rights as a human being so she began standing up for herself (not any of her kids!) and attempted to confront some of the rotten stuff our dad was doing and other family problems.

So we all sat down in our family room, 3 kids and mom & dad to "talk things over". I have to say that I was scared to death! My 1 yr older brother and 4 yr younger sister seemed relaxed and eager. When you study birth order of siblings, you see a lot of interesting dynamics that partially explain the relationships within a family and I have found almost all of the info about the 2nd child (me) to be quite correct and informative.
Anyway, it all began pretty peacefully and sensibly as my brother ans sister spoke about their concerns, fears, issues, observations, etc. about the family. Although we all had a lot to learn about how to share feelings and thoughts, especially troubling ones, I was quite amazed at how bold, candid and HONEST my siblings were in the face to our big, bad, abusive, bully, alcoholic, dad and our impotent, enabling, codependent mom. Mom and dad had a few things to say but nothing very significant and then my dad turned to me and said "Well, Jim, you haven't said much so far. So what do you have to say about all of this?" I just sat there petrified and certain that I wasn't going talk about all the horrible crap and then be punished later by HIM! So I just said that I'm not very happy and stopped there! The truth is, I could have spent 10 hours telling him and all of them what I thought was wrong and bad but I just didn't have the guts at that time.
So when we all had our little say, Dad leans back and with a very hurt/shocked face says: "So all of you think that I'm as bad as my dad, huh?" His dad was an abusive alcoholic too! "Well, I'm really disappointed in all of you ungrateful little ****s!" Oh my god, I thought we were all in for a thrashing! He really poured on that "poor little me" act while we all just sat there in stunned silence. I don't remember much else from that meeting other than I could see it wouldn't change a single thing.
Somehow the family was a tiny bit more respectful after that but soon went right back to the same old dysfunctional angry, fearful crap and got even WORSE as mom kept asserting her "new" rights and dad began uping his resistance to her defiance and betrayal.

In looking back over it, I can see that, had our parents held a few more meetings, things might have improved or even become resolved - even with an alcoholic in charge but I believe our parents were too humiliated and shaken by the surprising truths that came out of at least 2 of their kid's mouths and chose not to ever do that again.

Now that I am older and no longer afraid, I deeply regret passing up the opportunity to tell them all that I thought and felt right to their ignorant faces. I held in a huge sea of unhealed and unresolved hate, rage, pain, sorrow, lost love and FEAR that finally came out years later in therapy. It's apparent that, even if I had said it, nothing could have changed our sick family because the ppl in charge were not about to get honest and change anything even though mom was at least trying.
After a few very serious and dangerous skirmishes between our parents, dad up and left us one day without a single word!!! My brother ran after him and got in the car but dad dropped him off up the road. I guess my brother really did love that abusive monster despite all the savage beatings dad gave him!?! And I believe our sister was also hurt by dad leaving us - birth order can explain their reactions! As for me, I wanted to celebrate like it was New Years but held back for a few weeks fearing the Monster would return! He never did and the 4 of us went on to have VERY HAPPY lives from then on!

I don't want anyone to think I am against family meetings. I firmly believe that talking things out is the only way to go IF it can be done in a successful way. I suppose family counseling would have worked but our controlling bully dad would never have gone for that! He was dead sure he was RIGHT in everything.
Well, I sure hope your family meetings work out better than our single one did and I'm wishing you a lot of luck at that. Hopefully it can keep your family together and resolve all of your issues.
good luck,
jim