How to Host a Family Meeting

The following post is from Susan Heid of The Confident Mom:

source: Jennifer Juniper mom

All families can benefit from having some type of family meeting, even if you have very small children.  In my work with moms it is often one of the first questions I ask a mom who has come to me – “Do you have regular family meetings?” Then there is usually dead silence.

Why do family meetings often seem so daunting?

They don’t have to be. And the results your family will receive from regular meetings are powerful.

All successful businesses have some type of regular meetings. Consider your family unit a business with each person required to do a different job or role.  It pays to schedule time to keep everyone on the same page.

In addition, family meetings are an excellent way to practice problem-solving skills, promote communication, and build family unity.

When a child feels connected, they develop positive self-esteem, confidence, and have a sense of belonging. Children are also able to see their family working together as a group. It introduces the concept of being part of something bigger, rather than it only being about them.

Ready to plan your next family meeting? Here are a few tips.

Decide what type of meeting will fit your family’s style.

Some families will be more comfortable with less structure, while a family with five children will need to have more structure to keep everyone focused.

Establish a specific and regular meeting time.

Weekly is a good place to start. Often times our family uses Sunday dinner as a time to discuss most general items for the upcoming week.

Set time limits.

Don’t try to tackle too much in a meeting, be realistic with expectations. Don’t permit meetings to become gripe sessions.

Include everyone.

At family meetings, everyone has a part and something to contribute. No one is less important than another, and family members contribute according to their age and ability.

Encourage everyone to bring up issues. If you run out of time, make sure you write them down and discuss them at the next meeting.

Teach communication skills.

This is a great time to teach your children to listen with sensitivity, speak with respect for other’s feelings, and never use disrespectful remarks or tones. Talk less and listen more!

Adults especially find it hard to listen to one another. We are often so busy thinking of what we’re going to say next that we don’t listen to what someone is saying to us. Teaching by example is one of the best ways!

Take turns.

Remember parents are not the only ones in charge. After you have had a few meetings, take turns leading the meetings. Involve everyone in an age-appropriate way; one person can lead, another can take notes, another can be in charge of refreshments.

Have an agenda.

You may want to establish a specific agenda to keep things moving.

1. Start with positive comments, “Thanks for getting your chores done on time this week.”  It’s so easy for parents to dwell on the negative. Family meetings are a time to reinforce positive behaviors and teach positive skills for living with others.

2. Ask for subjects of concern or issues for discussion. Make sure you take all items seriously, even if they seem rather mundane. It is important to acknowledge everyone’s concerns.

3. Create a list and discuss each item one at a time. Work together to find a solution that works for everyone.

4. Follow through on agreements or decisions. At the time decisions are made; build in logical consequences for broken agreements. When decisions are mutually agreed on in a family meeting, everyone — even the youngest child — feels a sense of “ownership” and thus is more likely to go along with the plan.

5. Close by discussing the family schedule for the week.

Make family meetings fun!

Try serving dessert, like “make your own banana splits” or have family movie night immediately after your meeting.  It is a great way to wrap up the “business” side of family life by enjoying some fun and creating memories together!

How often does your family have meetings?

Susan enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom, and foster mom to 4  awesome kids. She is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and thinks Seattle has the bluest skies. You can find her at her other day job, The Confident Mom, and get a copy of her FREE eBook, “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players.”
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