A Place To Call Home

Strengthening the family bond can prove to be a challenging endeavor for even the most committed parents.  The family meeting, when done right, is one of the most powerful tools to add to your family toolbox.  Many studies have been conducted surrounding how consistent family meetings benefit the family:

  • Strengthens family bonds
  • Teaches children valuable lessons
  • Fathers feel more connected and more confident, as a result of regular meetings. 
  • Increases positive communication within the family.

What makes a family meeting successful?  Each family is different, but there are some helpful guidelines to assist families in getting started. 

Keep it upbeat!  This should be something the family looks forward to.  Keep in mind that children and teens may not be super excited at first, but eventually it can be considered valuable and beneficial to all members of the family. 

Everyone who lives in the household should be encouraged to join in the meeting. Aunts, Grandma, Grandpa are all part of the family.

Be creative with where you hold the meeting.  It doesn’t need to be held at the house, it could be held at a park, a pizza place or the backyard picknick table…  Have fun with it. 

Agenda should be creative.  Kids are not going to look forward to a meeting that reflects a school conference or a ‘work-like’ agenda and format.  This is not a time to scold or preach, this is about the entire family communicating and working together.

Be flexible with the time frame, but consistent in holding the meeting.  Depending on the age of your children the time frame will change based on their level of attention.  A 3-year-old meeting might last 10-15 minutes, but that 3-year-old will know that every Sunday there is a family meeting.  Teenagers and pre-teens can usually last an hour.  Meetings should typically be around 1 hour. 

Spend 10-15 minutes on a teaching a topic, this could be:  Scripture or a devotional, budgeting, how to take care of a car, how to properly throw a frisbee (it’s a lost art 😊).  Children can also have nights where they present a topic for the family, this can help them learn valuable public speaking skills as well as how to prepare and present a topic.

Have someone assigned to taking minutes.  Post the minutes.  Parents and children should follow through on all family agreements.  Along these lines, it’s a good idea to assign each child responsibilities for each meeting, that way the whole family feels included and takes ownership.

Have reasonable expectations.  Kids are fidgety, get bored, pick their nose and make noises…  Even if it’s not the idyllic experience you had imagined, that’s ok!  Be flexible, understand that kids listen and learn more than we think they do.  Stay the course, keep consistent. 

Have opening and closing rituals.  Sitting in a circle holding hands as and opening ritual can increase bonding, utilizing a Tibetan singing bowl can be fun, or having each person read a favorite scripture.  There are many creative ways to open and close a meeting. 

The meeting should have a fun activity planned for afterwards.  A family card game, monopoly, ice cream sundae, go out for dinner, play time at the park. The family should decide together on what the fun activity will be. 

Family meetings can be an amazing, bonding tradition that teach valuable skills, reinforce family culture and values and allows time for shared problem solving.  It’s never too late to strengthen family bonds and begin this tradition, even teenagers can learn to enjoy the benefits of this very powerful tool.  Make family meetings a priority and remember you set the tone for your home, children follow your example.   
 

Submitted by:

Tracey Woods

Agency Trainer 


Resources:

  • Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, Psychology Today.com
  • Brett & Kate McKay, Art of Manliness.com

Blog: Holding a Family Meeting