“Hey mom, can we have a family meeting?” My (then) 3-year-old would request family meetings every other day for a month. So I, my husband, and my young son would gather together, usually on the couch snuggled in some blankets, and we’d talk about what was going to happen that day or in the upcoming weekend, or we would plan how to tackle a big project around the house that needed to be done.
At the time, I just figured my son liked the fact that we were all talking together while cozy on the couch during the cold winter evenings. I think looking back, though, that he also relished feeling grown up, as he was part of the discussion. And he liked knowing what to expect as far as our schedule went. A regular family meeting provided that.
What do I mean by a family meeting?
Well, it can be as formal and well-defined as you want, or as casual as you like. Someone can be in charge of recording the minutes and you can always meet on Sundays after dinner at the dining room table. Or, you can fit a more informal meeting in randomly in the car whenever you happen to be all together. But the main objective for a family meeting is to get everyone in one place at one time in order to communicate important information.
What should you discuss at a family meeting?
Logistical concerns are the easiest to tackle, and usually immediately practical and beneficial. Make sure everyone knows what activities and events are happening in the near future, as well as touching base on who will need to be where, when, and how they will get there.
In addition to logistics, it might be necessary to address a current conflict, or general family attitude you would like to see change. You want the meeting to stay positive, so if you have to address something difficult that affects everyone, just cut to the chase, address the problem, and move on.
For example, it might be that you’ve noticed a sense of entitlement/lack of gratitude prevailing in your family culture. Say something short and sweet about how everyone will be working on saying thank you more this upcoming week. And then maybe announce an incentive to get everyone motivated to say thank you.
A family meeting is also a good way to build people up – try to compliment all the good you have seen people do recently. Acknowledge people by name, appreciating what they have done specifically.
Not only will the family meeting hopefully get everyone on the same page, it has some additional benefits under the surface:
It models good communication.
It shows everyone in the family how to share in positive ways. This is a lifelong skill that your kids can use in many different situations.
It allows everyone to have a voice.
If you encourage everyone to participate, you can help encourage those who might not speak up regularly to have a say.
It promotes family unity, even when just planning events.
Having everyone in the same room and focused on a common goal does wonders to feeling united.
It can make other family time more enjoyable.
If the meeting helps everyone feel connected, and if you are consistently coming together and sharing, that atmosphere will bleed over into your other time together (like family dinners)–only making each experience better.