Now that school is in full swing in our house, family meetings are an essential part of our weekly routine. Between two working parents and three boys who are active in school and the community, we all need to be on the same page. Family meetings are an excellent time to talk about what we are doing, what we need to do, what we want to do and what’s working as a team.
So why a family meeting?
Consistent and effective family meetings can increase independence, promote responsibility, provide accountability while decreasing miscommunication among all family members. Family meetings can also reduce stress, develop problem-solving strategies, and reinforce vital life skills among children.
Are you a new blended family? Did you just adopt? Does your family deal with a lot of change? Then family meetings are an excellent routine for consistency and structure for your family.
Running your family meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. So let’s spend some time identifying three elements you can put into practice this week for your family meeting.
Set a consistent date
Family meetings are productive when they occur on a regular basis. This is important. The consistency of family meetings communicates our time as a family is important. You separate from phones and television to zone into each other. What does that look like for your family?
- Think about a day and time where all family members are available and are less likely to be distracted and rushed.
- Pick a location away from distractions and is neutral.
- Begin on time and end on time. Time consistency reinforces to children the importance of timeliness and structure. Identify one person to be a timekeeper letting everyone know when there are 10 minutes left in the meeting.
- Be sure to end the meeting with something fun and positive.
Identify what’s important
As the adults, we can use family meetings to set the tone for our homes. We can model respectful behavior, problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution in front of our children. Awareness of our language and behavior helps to cultivate the way we want our children to treat others in and out of family meeting time.
- Use the family meeting time to discuss family values, beliefs, or even create a family mission statement. Each person can explain why these statements matter in shaping who you are as an individual.
- Discuss upcoming events for the week, goals, and expectations. These conversations often prevent miscommunication later.
- Develop a strategy for handling conflict. Help your children understand how to use their language when they are frustrated, upset, or disappointed.
- Celebrate the wins! This is a must. Spend time identifying areas each person contributed to the family without adding anything extra to it. What area did your spouse improve? How did your child step out to try something new? Whatever it is—acknowledge it and spend time rejoicing together.
At the end of each meeting, summarize important events, responsibilities, and celebrations. Each family member should feel heard, appreciated, and respected when a family meeting concludes.
Allow everyone to participate
Whether your children are have just started sitting at the table, or you have teenagers, family meetings are suitable for children at any stage. Parents will often hold a majority of the family meetings when the children are younger or when establishing the expectations of the meeting. Even though parents will guide the meeting, it’s is essential each person can contribute to what is happening in the family.
During family meetings, each person is contributing to the conversation. This is not a time for parents to talk “at” their children. It is not a lecture. Family meetings are an ongoing dialogue to create space for each person to share and discuss in a safe environment.