Family meetings help streamline communication and increase closeness with your loved ones. Use these times to get together, discuss important topics, and listen to each other. These meetings can be helpful if you need to talk about an upcoming problem or situation your family is facing. Your family also can discuss upcoming events, decide on any preventative actions you’ll take, and agree on how you’ll manage things. In addition, the meetings can clear up confusion and ensure everyone understands expectations and action plans.
During family meetings, you might talk about house rules, upcoming family vacations, or changes to your family structure. Or you might settle ongoing disputes between siblings. Invite all family members to participate and gently encourage them to come, but don’t demand attendance. Establish a productive meeting space and consider the following tips to make sure your family meetings are effective.
- Set a specific time and location. The time should work for everyone, and the location should be convenient and conducive to good conversations.
- Establish an agenda. Ask family members in advance what they’d like to cover during the meeting. As you identify topics for discussion, remember your agenda will drive the length of your meeting. Hold shorter meetings—about 10–20 minutes—when younger kids are present too.
- Get everyone involved. All members should take on a role, even little kids. Decide who will be the leader, note taker, and timekeeper. Rotate responsibilities at each meeting.
- Take turns talking and listening. Set some guidelines for how the meeting will run, including how everyone will communicate. Speak one at a time, use “I” statements, and practice good listening skills.
- Encourage participation. Ask for everyone’s opinions and ideas when problem-solving or brainstorming. Enabling all family members’ voices to be heard helps build cohesion in your family unit.
- Write down your plan of action. Once your family decides how you’ll work towards achieving your joint goal, write things down and post the information where everyone can see it.
Family meetings are successful when kids learn effective problem-solving skills and everyone in the family feels heard. Get your loved ones together for your first family meeting this week!
Center for Parenting Education. Holding family meetings. Retrieved from http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/
Fetsch, R. J., Jacobson, B., Kemp, C. J., Quinn, A., & Fruhauf, C. A. (2013). 10 tips for successful family meetings. Retrieved from http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/family-home-consumer/10-tips-for-successful-family-meetings/
HealthyChild.org. (2015). How to have a family meeting. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx
University of Illinois Extension. The family meeting. Retrieved from https://my.extension.illinois.edu/documents/8100308100810/The Family Meeting.pdf