It may sound like an odd notion to hold a “family meeting” but an organized, yet fun, meeting once a week can help your family solve problems and conflicts, reduce the stress that comes from having too many busy people scattered in too many directions during the week, build solidarity and understanding, reinforce family culture and values and teach your child vital life skills. Not sure how to get started or what exactly to do? Here’s our primer to get you on your way to hold family meetings.
- Set a positive tone
Family meetings are most effective and enthusiastically received if they occur regularly, not just when there is a crisis or discipline needs to be meted out. Try to shoot for a meeting once a week at a time that does not conflict with anyone’s schedule.
To make the atmosphere more positive, you should:
* Include snacks.
* Establish ground rules such as no interruptions, respect each other’s opinions, and everyone gets a chance to speak.
* Include an opening activity that highlights positive family achievements such as each person stating the best thing they did that week, the thing they are most thankful for that week, the best thing another family member did that week, etc.
- Set an agenda
Knowing what to expect makes the meeting more bearable for your family. Include recurring items on the agenda such as time to sync schedules and calendars, share information that affects other family members, or make family decisions about vacations. Also include special items—for example, if there is conflict in the family, set time aside to try to resolve the conflict. Or make it a fun or learning event by teaching your kids a life skill such as fixing a bicycle flat tire or discussing something that has been on the news recently. But remember to be flexible—there will be times when you’ll need to dedicate more time to a specific category.
- Hold a family postmortem
You’ve probably done these at some point in your working career but they can work well for your family as well. Ask these three critical questions:
* What worked well in our family this week?
* What went wrong in our family this week?
* What will we work on this coming week?
By holding these discussions, everyone should have a good idea of what’s working well and not so well in your family and have a constantly updated plan of action. The key thing to remember with the family review and retrospective questions is to focus on how you’re doing as a family. Don’t use this time to discuss individual problems or grievances.
- Ask if anybody needs help with anything
After discussing problems that you’re family is facing as a group, dedicate some time for individual family members to bring up personal problems they could use some help on.
- End on a good note
Every family meeting should end with something fun. Play video or board games together. Take a walk. Order out pizza followed up with ice cream sundaes.
- Don’t have unreasonable expectations
Go into your family meetings with reasonable expectations. Expect a little chaos from time to time and just do what you can. Just because you don’t see a benefit immediately, doesn’t mean you haven’t sewn some amazing seeds that will bear the fruit of family love and personal character down the road.
Photo Credit: istockphoto.com
Do you hold a family meeting in your home?