Family Dialogue

Any family can try Family Dialogue with hope of success by using these suggestions and by avoiding the pitfalls described here. Most importantly, if you as a couple have a positive attitude toward the possibility of success in your own family with Family Dialogue, it will most probably work for you like it does for thousands of families.


WHEN & HOW OFTEN TO HAVE FAMILY DIALOGUE

From the experience of families from all over the country, we’ve discovered that once a week is most worthwhile for Family Dialogue. But each family has its own wants and needs and should adjust so that this time together offers relaxation and a positive experience for everyone. More frequently than once a week, though, can be burdensome to some families. However, dialoguing every day while you’re on a camping vacation, for example, can be a uniquely special experience for your entire family.

Family Dialogue less than once a week allows families to lose touch with each other between times, and any benefits that have been gained in tprevious family dialogues may be lost, so choosing the optimal time each week for a fmaily “date” will help your family members to plan and look forward to it.

THE WEDS PROCESS FOR FAMILY DIALOGUE

W = Write

  • You may find it advantageous to write just before dialoguing in order to make it a special family time together with structure and pattern.
  • Select a question, set a buzzer for 10 minutes, write on the question, and begin the dialogue. Reset the buzzer for 10 minutes of verbal dialogue.
  • Allow the children the freedom to write about their feelings in whatever form they wish. Writing in some way is a must if family dialogue is to be a success.
  • Children who are too young to write can draw pictures or dictate their “letter” to another member of the family. Then during the reading, the words can either be whispered in the child’s ear and then repeated out loud, or another member of the family can read it for the child.
  • Not necessarily sticking to feelings when writing family dialogue letters may be an advantage. Unlike marital dialogue, where we write only feelings in our letters, the family letters may contain thoughts, etc., but it should be carefully explained what feelings are and their importance as a core part of each of us. Encourage children to write down their feelings or make a list of feelings, but you needn’t insist on writing strictly about feelings or to correct them if they give an opinion or belief. Family dialogue doesn’t equate to marital dialogue.
  • E = Exchange

  • Each member of the family reads his/her own letter aloud to the others.
  • D = Dialogue

  • Make clear that family dialogue time is very special family time where you can focus on each other’s unique goodness and lovability, and to try to communicate more fully and deeply with one another. Gently point out that open sharing during dialogue should focus on the good and positive rather than pointing out another’s failures. This special time is not for picking apart each other’s letters or comments or personalities. Make every effort to explain garbage dumping to your children before you begin sharing. If a child garbage dumps anyway, even if not deliberate, your other children may lose confidence in sharing their feelings and thoughts.
  • Sharing may start spontaneously with anyone starting who wishes to start and continues at random or goes around the room.
  • Suggest that you hope everyone will share without making it a rule or insisting.
  • Comments and questions may or may not be allowed following each person’s sharing. Or you may want to set a ground rule that all comments and questions must wait until all have read their letters.
  • Non-verbal communication during family dialogue also is important now. Making eye contact and smiling at the person sharing helps create confidence in your children’s desire to communicate within the family.
  • S = Select
    There are many ways to select questions for Family Dialogue. Try some of those listed here to discover what is right for your family.

  • Select a question based on your family’s regular activities (school, sports teams, music, drama, dance, vacations, camping, church and church school, etc).
  • Select a question based on your family’s experiences (holidays, traditions, extended family, etc).
  • Select a question from the family’s moods (happy, hurried, content, edgy, resentful, noisy, sullen, quiet, hectic, quarrelsome, etc).
  • Select a question that may have arisen from a previous Family Dialogue time.
  • Select a question from your children’s Sunday School lessons or Scripture. Each family member may want a turn at choosing the scripture passage to use as well as the question.
  • You may vary when you select the question from time to time. Rather than choosing right before your weekly Family Dialogue time, you may want to select it a week before so each family member can think about the question all week before writing. If the question is chosen in this way, it can be posted on the refrigerator or bulletin board.
  • You are unique as a family, with unique needs and challenges and joys and talents, so your questions will also be totally unique to your family, and will help your family to grow together in love and understanding.

    QUESTIONS TO PREPARE FOR FAMILY DIALOGUE

    1. What do I/we hope to gain from family dialogue? HDMAMMF
    2. Do I/we want to change (control, manipulate) our child(ren)? HDMAMMF
    3. Is my/our goal to deepen our family’s relationships or is it problem solving? HDMAMMF
    4. How do I/we apply God’s plan to our family? HDMAMMF
    5. How does family dialogue fit into God’s plan for our family? HDMAMMF
    6. What am I/we willing to sacrifice for the success of our family dialogues? HDMAMMF
    7. What are your best qualities as a parent?  WAMFAT
    8. What are my best qualities as a parent?  HDMAMMF
    9. What quality as a parent do I most envy in you?  HDMAMMF
    10. What is my attitude toward discipline?  HDMAMMF
    11. What is my attitude toward punishment?  HDMAMMF
    12. Which of our children most needs our help and understanding?  HDMAMMF
    13. In what ways do I feel superior to you as a parent?  HDMAMMF
    14. What do I want most for our child(ren)?  HDMAMMF
    15. Which of our children do I defend most often? HDMAMMF
    16. WAMF when you correct or discipline that child? DIFALD
    17. WAM when our child(ren) confide(s) in you alone? DIFALD
    18. Which of our children most needs our help and understanding? HDMAMMF
    19. Which of our children am I most proud of? HDMAMMF
    20. Which of our children do I feel closest to? HDMAMMF
    21. Which of our children is my favorite? HDMAMMF
    22. Which of our children am I least proud of? HDMAMMF

    QUESTIONS FOR FAMILY DIALOGUE

    1.  What was my most exciting feeling today?   DIFALD
    2.  What was the most meaningful experience that I had today?  HDMAMMF
    3.  If Jesus came to our house for a 24-hour visit, how would that make me feel?  DIFALD
    4.  HDIFA being unforgiving?  DIFALD
    5.  HDIF being unforgiven?  DIFALD
    6.  HDIFA the love I bring to our family?  DIFALD
    7.  HDIFA being part of this family?  DIFALD
    8.  HDIF when someone in our family helps me?  DIFALD
    9.  HDIF when a friend helps me?  DIFALD
    10. HDIF when I receive a compliment from someone in our family?  DIFALD
    11. HDIF when I receive a compliment from someone outside our family?  DIFALD
    12. What is the meaning of Christmas to me?  HDMAMMF
    13. What is the meaning of Lent to me?  HDMAMMF
    14. What is the meaning of Easter to me?  HDMAMMF
    15. What is the meaning of Thanksgiving to me?  HDMAMMF
    16. What is the meaning of my birthday to me?  HDMAMMF
    17. WAMFA attending church on Sundays?  DIFALD
    18. What is my best quality?  HDMAMMF
    19. What do I like best about our family?  HDMAMMF
    20. WAMF when I am asked to cut back or do without?  DIFALD
    21. WAMFA family dialogue? DIFALD
    22. What is the most important thing that happened to me this week?  HDMAMMF
    23. When do I feel closest to all of you?  HDMAMMF
    24. WAMFA (a decision) our family has made? DIFALD
    25. HDIFA family dialogue? DIFALD
    26. HDIFA our family right now? DIFALD
    27. HDIFA Jesus’ words “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven”? DIFALD
    28. What was I most thankful for this week? HDMAMMF
    29. What do I most like to do with our family? HDMAMMF
    30. What does family unity mean to me? HDMAMMF
    31. HDIF when (we go out / you go out) at night without us? HDMAMMF
    32. HDIFA the privacy of my room? DIFALD
    33. What do I hope for next summer? HDMAMMF
    34. What do I want most out of life? HDMAMMF
    35. What was my most painful experience this week? HDMAMMF
    36. What do I like to do best without my family? HDMAMMF
    37. HDIFA springtime? DIFALD
    38. HDIFA fall? DIFALD
    39. HDIFA school? DIFALD
    40. What do I dislike about our family life? HDMAMMF
    41. HDIF when my parents are affectionate with each other in front of me? DIFALD
    42. HDIF when we pray together as a family at mealtimes? DIFALD
    43. HDIF when we go to church together? DIFALD
    44. What do I think I add most to our family life? HDMAMMF
    45. What is the possession I have that I like best? HDMAMMF