Big snow day today, here in Groton MA. I made an agreement with my three kids (10, 9, and 6) – if they shoveled the sidewalks and the deck (no small chore) they would each earn $5. They started out great. After an hour, they were 90% done, but started to get frustrated with each other. There was some name-calling, which escalated into minor pushing, which further escalated into a fight. Someone went to their room while the rest of them finished up. Everyone was overflowing with emotion so I decided to hold a small circle. Everyone checked in with their feelings (a lot of anger, sadness, fear about punishment, and to my surprise, shame).
Next we held a small integrity round. Two of the three claimed they were out of integrity. With a couple of questions, both were able to articulate the impact (on the group) of their actions. Both offered simple acts of service that were accepted, and everyone checked out with happy. I explained that this is basically what happens in my men’s group, and also what we do in the circles of men that I work with in prisons through the Jericho Circle.
I got a taste of how young children might respond to this work last August when I attended a father-daughter weekend put on by the NY community with my 10 yr-old daughter. Since then, I’ve been doing regular check-ins with her. This was the first family circle we held. I judge that it was an incredible success.