THE WEDS process for a 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

  • Exchange the thoughts/feelings that you wrote down, with each other.
  • 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.

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