Modern families often look more like individuals who share the same last name and address, but don’t really live as a unified and supportive group. The demands of hectic schedules and busy lives can mean that it is difficult to find time to spend together, and it spirals into disconnect among family members. Family meetings are great ways for families who are busy to still remain connected and work like a team.
Incorporating family meetings doesn’t have to take a large amount of time. It just means that there should be one specific time when all of the family is together to work toward the same goals. Parents should form a plan, especially for the first few meetings, as to how the gathering will work. As the family needs change, the format of the meetings can change as well.
It is important to begin the meeting with as much positive energy as possible. Parents can start with some ground rules, where everyone’s ideas are to be respected, and the discussions at the meetings are private and not for gossiping with friends. This way, children (especially teens), will feel safer sharing their true thoughts. Each family member could then share compliments or things they appreciate in fellow family members. Sometimes this could be how a brother likes his sister’s singing, or a son thanking a father for helping find his skateboard. This only takes a few minutes, but sometimes these are things that would never be said otherwise.
The family meeting is also the time to discuss any problems and form possible solutions. Parents should encourage their kids to help brainstorm positive solutions, and together as a family decide the best choice. At future family meetings the situations should be reviewed and everyone can provide feedback.
The agendas for the meetings can be decided at the beginning of each meeting, or they could be planned in advance, allowing room for “new business” within the time frame. Each person in the family should be encouraged to add to the agenda, so that the family meeting truly represents the family as a whole unit.
Family meetings don’t have to just be about problems and issues that arise. These can also be times to discuss vacations, possible new pets, or birthday parties. Families can also talk about meals for the week, extracurricular activities and schedules, or other family goals. It is even a great time to come up with a family motto or investigate a family crest. These types of things reinforce the unity of family and bring family members together. Displaying the motto or crest in a location visible to everyone can help solidify the commitment of family. At the end of each meeting there could be desserts, a fun game, or a short outing, ending the meeting with a great balance between business and enjoying each other’s company.
Family meetings don’t have to be painful, boring activities. They are great ways to bring people closer and develop strong bonds that will carry family members through difficult times, and make the fun times even better. In a world that revolves around rushed, hectic, running, it is important not to let the family unit fall.
Your friend and fellow parent,
Parenting Coach, Author & Speaker