How to make family meetings successful: 6 family meeting rules
When was the last time you held a family meeting? Probably a long time ago. We get it. If we’re honest, don’t we all groan when we see a meeting pop up on our calendar? That notification reminds us of all the not-productive-in-any-way or boring meetings we’ve all sat through. And, as parents we have a hard time imagining inflicting that same type of torture on our children, because, if we’re being real, we’re just hoping to survive dinner without an major meltdown or incidents and we’re pretty sure a family meeting will bringing both of those to an inevitable outcome.
While most of us hate meetings, we forget there’s a flip side. There are meetings when breakthroughs happen and we’ve left with a sense of accomplishment and an excitement about the decision.
Family meetings can do just that. A family meeting gives your family the opportunity to come together to work through problems which gives a sense of accomplishment when a decision is reached.
Growing up our family held family meetings. They were usually took place when something needed to be decided that affected all members of the family. Things like: deciding the next family vacation, what activities we’d wanted to do on a holiday, how to spend our Christmas money from our grandparents. Most of the time those meetings were helpful. Every once in awhile not so much—though those meeting usually were the ones with a better story to tell.
It’s been awhile since my family has held a family meeting, but, with an upcoming family trip we needed to hold one. How else were we going to get 9 adults on the same page?
Sitting around the floor of my parents house, we begin working through the pros and cons of schedules, hotel arrangements, and overall expectations for the vacation. Each person was allowed to give their input about what they wanted to see, what food we’d take with us, how early/late we wanted to start in the morning, and whether we should do a hotel with a shuttle or a condo and walk.
Not every decision was settled that night, but a lot were and putting all of us on the same page made our trip that much better.
How to make family meetings successful? Here are our 6 family meeting rules that all families will find useful.
1. Keep family meetings short
Family meetings do not need to be a long drawn out process. In fact, they’ll work better when they aren’t! Keep them to 15 minutes or less and you’ll be amazed at all the things that your family can accomplish in a short amount of time.
2. Find a time that works well for everybody
Family meetings will be more effective when people aren’t tired, stressed, or under a time crunch. Finding a time that works well for everybody may be a challenge, but don’t overlook non-traditional times time such as car rides, around the dinner table, or on a weekend morning.
3. Make sure everybody has a chance to say something
The whole purpose of a family meetings is to get your family on the same page. The only way to do it is by making sure everybody has a say. Knowing they have a say will give your children more buying on whatever is decided—even if it wasn’t exactly what they wanted. Learning how to present ideas, compromise, and not fall apart when things don’t go according to plan will be valuable lesson all their life.
4. Establish family meeting guidelines
These meeting will present a safe space for your children to bring up topics and issues that have been on their mind—it can also become a platform where they complain about every thing and everyone in their life. Establishing guidelines such as: we listen without interruption, each person has a limited time frame, mom and dad have veto power, etc. will help the meeting run smoothly.
5. Write it down
Something happens when a decision is written down—we’re more likely to follow through. By writing it down, and displaying it somewhere where the whole family can see it, will remind your family of what was decided and what their responsibilities are.
6. Be consistent
Figure out a frequency that works for your family and stick with it. Those first couple of meetings aren’t going to be easy, but it’ll be the consistency and getting into a routine that will be of most beneficial to your family.
Using family meetings to resolve conflict and make decisions will strengthen your families relationships while building up your children and empowering them to make decisions and state their opinion.