More likely than not, you have heard of the “family meeting.” You may even have been motivated to give it a try. However, keeping up with them and even knowing how to implement them effectively can feel like a struggle.
Meeting with your family for 15-30 minutes each week is a great way to come together as a family to solve problems, celebrate accomplishments, create plans and solidify the family bond. When getting started, the most important thing to remember is there is no wrong way. The fact that you are making an effort to get your family together once a week to share ideas and celebrate each other is a win; it doesn’t need to be perfect!
When you are first introducing the concept, make sure to invite everyone who is sharing the household including grandparents and step children (even if they are not there full time). Some parents have created a hand written invitation and delivered them to each room, which is a terrific idea especially for older children. Make sure it is a time that works for all, but it is important not to force participation. If you have a reluctant joiner, just go ahead and get started without them, but continue to invite them each week. Once they hear everyone talking about the meetings and having fun, they won’t be able to help but participate!
Thank everyone for coming and explain that the family meetings will be a place for your family to celebrate each other, plan for trips, solve problems, and have fun together.
Start off by sharing some good news about each of the participants and invite others to join in.
Introduce the concept of the “Agenda” and explain that after tonight’s meeting there will be a place for everyone to add a topic.
Tell everyone how much you appreciate them and thank them again for coming.
Meeting adjourned! Short and definitely sweet; a great way to start.
*After the meeting, write “Creating rules for family meetings” on the agenda paper.
Start with celebrations, then bring out the agenda.
Begin with creating rules. This is a good time to talk about the format of family meetings and the idea of brainstorming. All ideas will be accepted, then as a family you will decide on the ones you like best. Some ideas for rules: One person talks at a time. (To control this, some families use an object that is called the “talking ____” depending on the object. Whoever is holding it has the floor.) Kind words only, All ideas accepted, etc.
Once the rules have been hammered out and accepted by the group, move on in a similar fashion with any other items on the agenda.
For all subsequent meetings, you will always start with good news and celebrations and then move on to agenda items.
Additional ideas to make the meetings a success:
Stay out of lecture mode; family meetings are meant to create a level playing field where each family member has an equal voice.
Start each meeting with a special tradition; i.e. family handshake, prayer, or cheer.
Create roles for family members that can rotate week to week. These can be things like: recorder, agenda reader, talking object manager, etc. Obviously, with younger kids you will have to make adjustments.
Keep a family meeting notebook to keep track of all of your great ideas.
End each meeting giving each person a chance to express something they are grateful for.
Have fun, be creative, and keep it light!
Do something enjoyable as a family after the meeting; i.e. get ice cream, go for a walk, play a game etc.