Holding Family Meetings: A Necessity for Our Busy Families

By Kami Loyd

Growing up I was one of six children, and each of us had different schedules. From soccer team practice to piano lessons, every day of the week was filled. It often made us kids, and especially our parents, feel that sometimes we lived more in the car than in our own house. On top of the crazy schedules, my parents also dealt with sibling rivalries, children’s misbehavior, job changes, and all the other stresses of life.

One of the most important things my parents did each week to help them prepare and to reconnect us together was to have a family meeting. Our family meetings advanced over the years from simple scheduling sessions and settling sibling squabbles into deeper discussions about individual’s and the family’s needs.

As my husband and I created our own family, we have discovered that we too need these weekly, and sometimes more frequent,family meetings to help everyone stay on the same page. These frequent meetings almost always include the needs of our four small children and using our technology to schedule our fast-paced lives. Our family meetings do not currently have much input from our children, but as they grow, they will understand the pattern and organization that we have already established, allowing them to fully participate.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith from Psychology Today has said, “In my years of practice, [a family meeting] has proven to be one of the most effective and bonding things families can do to create greater harmony and experience more depth and connection with those they love.” I can’t think of anything most families want more than these exact things.

Some of the benefits The Center for Parenting Education has found coming from family meetings include helping children cope with problems effectively in other situations, increasing family cohesion, teaching children to see things from other perspectives, solving problems in a fair way,  and many others.

What steps can you take to hold an effective family meeting?

Russell Ballard’s book Counseling with Our Councils encourages families to have family meetings and to use a specific pattern. My husband and I have used these ideas as a template in our own family as we have created the pattern we use in holding our family meetings. Some ideas include::

  1. Planning before the family meeting – Parents should meet together and decide what points they will be discussing at the family meeting. This may be a good time to decide whether the issues the family are facing are only to be discussed as a family, or if they can be decided on as a family too. There are some issues like consequences for actions, family relocations for jobs, family house rules, curfews, etc. that parents must make decisions on. Although they can discuss these with children, they are not up for debate. Some topics that could be covered in your family meeting could include children’s grades, use of technology, healthy relationships, friendship and respect, drugs and alcohol, pornography, gratitude, and family vacations just to name a few. The more meetings you have, the more you’ll be able to customize each to your families needs.
  2. Turn off distractions and tune into each other – When you are starting your family meeting, one of the worst things that can happen is to get distracted by your son’s cell phone ringing, a text from the local pizza place with a 25% off coupon, or a television program from which your kids can’t seem to look away. Keeping distractions at a distance by turning them off, or at least silencing them, will allow you and your family to get more out of your family meeting and tune into each other as well as the issues you are discussing.
  3. Start your meeting by sharing your love for one another – Although your family shouldn’t hear “I love you” only at these meetings, beginning by telling family members how you feel can reduce animosity and help everyone to better listen to each other.
  4. Decision Making – Each person should be able to speak their mind concerning the matter without interruption from other family members. When a family decision needs to be made, after everyone has said what they feel is important to the discussion, take a vote. Although not every vote may carry the same amount of weight in decision-making, allowing children to feel their voice is heard and their opinion matters can reduce arguments and resentment when things do not turn out their way. Also, allowing children to make their case as to why their decision is the best option can help them think through the consequences of their choice before they vote.
  5. Remember that some decisions or family difficulties take time – Parents and children often want to know what is going to happen right now. Unfortunately, some of the reasons you may be having a family meeting will take thought, time, and effort before there is a clear decision or conclusion. These issues may need to be brought up in multiple family meetings, so remember you may not have to have an answer right now. Having patience during these times is essential!
  6. End with family time – After any meeting, it is a great idea to have a treat, whether you all get in the car to get ice cream, play a family game together, or have a snowball fight, etc. Having the release of time as a family and being able to express your love for one another again will help your family meetings to be happy memories instead of becoming dreaded time family members have to put up with.

Families have strengths and struggles as they grow and develop, but having family meeting can allow parents and children to address issues before they become overwhelming problems. Your first attempts may be awkward for you and your children, but with time these meetings will become easier.

Some great resources for family meeting topics are included in, which are presented in a family meeting style, and al. This resource has great family meeting topics and even a lesson for parents on how to hold a family meeting. As you use family meetings, they may become the treasured memories of weekly rich discussions between you and your children that draw you together even as life tries to pull you apart.

Need Help with Tough Topics? We got you covered!

 

Kami Loyd received her bachelors of Marriage and Family from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She and her husband have been married for four years, and she is the proud mother of four children. Her interests include reading, board games, and most of all her family. She is passionate about helping her children and others find joy in family life.

 

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Citations:

Ballard, M. R. (2012). Counseling with our councils: learning to minister together in the church and in the family. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.

Goldsmith, B. (2012, September 05). 10 Tips for Holding a Family Meeting. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/10-tips-holding-family-meeting

Holding Family Meetings. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2017, from http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/

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