FACE for Families

FACE for Families grew out of our realization that all too often the kind of offending behaviour dealt with by our local police is something that grew out of a dysfunctional family, or a family where one member no longer felt part of the family. This police involvement may well have been avoided if only the family had come together and faced what was going on (or not going on) in the family from day to day.

Situations where a family circle could help:

  • teenagers feeling unheard or disrespected;
  • children not respecting the house rules;
  • constant arguing or no communication at all;
  • work or financial stress that is affecting the whole family atmosphere;
  • a recent illness or death that the family is trying to deal with.

How a Family Circle Works

Once a family agrees to come to a circle, one or two facilitators meet with the immediate family members individually to explain the circle process, discover who should be invited, and most importantly, get some agreement on what recent incident best represents the problem that the family is trying to deal with. This incident will be the focus of the circle.

All members of the immediate family should attend the circle. As well, it is a good idea to invite members of the extended family and some close family friends who will know from the outside what the family is going through. These outside participants will provide valuable insights and unique points of view that let the family sit back and have a fresh look at each other, and the problem they are facing.
At the circle itself, blaming is not allowed. Each person speaks only about his or her own experience and how the problem affects them and the family as a whole. This is what makes the circle a safe place for all. Listening without judgment is encouraged.
All participants in the circle then share suggestions as to how to repair the harm done, and how to pull together as a family going forward. A consensus is reached and the main points of agreement are written up in a circle agreement.

The family is then invited to return to the circle in two or three months to review their agreement and, hopefully, celebrate their newfound success as a family.

Benefits of a family circle

Family circles offer:

  • a chance for a family to sit together in a quiet and safe setting to catch their breath;
  • a place where they listen to and begin to understand each other;
  • a neutral setting where everyone can feel valued and comfortable saying what they have always wanted to say;
  • the experience of what it is like to work together as a family;
  • the hope of a fresh start backed up by the commitment of each family member.

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