I was speaking with a couple the other day and they were catching me up on how things were going with them. Somewhere along the conversation they mentioned that they had, had a family meeting. The husband thought it was a colossal waste of time and the wife thought it was a great time of hearing everyone’s perspective. I wondered if they were at the same meeting.
The way that they shared the experience reminded me of the family meetings we had in my family as a kid. They were always great exercises but really not much more than a place for my parents to hand out breaking news.
But now that I am a husband in my own family, I have started trying to have family meetings and so far I have found them to be pretty effective. As a dad and husband, it is important for me to know where all “my people” are. What are they thinking, what is going on with my wife, where is my son’s head at these days. Yeah, we have these conversations individually, daily. But I have found it an added benefit to intentionally set aside time to come together as a family and find out where we are and how we can support each other. Here are a few things I have learned about having a good family meeting.
1. Be focussed. Have a stated agenda and purpose. It helps everyone feel at ease and give their honest input, they know what they meeting is for, and what is to be accomplished.
2. Discuss major changes and decisions that need to be made. Let everyone weigh in. My philosophy is that kids don’t get to decide whether you take a new job or move to a new neighborhood — Tips on how to have a family meeting, how to benefit from a family meeting, ways to have an effective family meeting, how to plan a family meeting, what is a family meeting until they start paying bills. However, knowing how they feel, getting their input might make a difference in your final decision and it allows them to know they are a part of the family.
3. Let everyone have a voice, a chance to talk about what ever is important to them. An open time where anything goes. It is not always easy to hear what people think when it is not positive, but it may be necessary to heal or keep friction at bay. Think of the family meeting as a time to gain valuable information about the people in your house. Let them express themselves.
4. Be brief. Depending on how big the family is, you might want to make the meeting 30 minutes to an hour. Make it fun – laugh, open with an interesting history fact. Make it light hearted, especially if you have teens that would rather be doing anything else. LOL.
5. Have meetings frequently. Don’t let things build up, talk frequently and systematically as a family.
6. Don’t judge, just listen. The whole point is to get every member of the family engaged and sharing. Your six year old may only be able to convey their thoughts in terms of Power Rangers or The Backyardigans. But that is cool, I have found that when everyone in the family is included and valued the whole family feels closer and free to share.
7. Set definitive goals for the family. Family meetings are a good place to set goals for everyone in the family, as a family. Tell each other what your goals are and then rally around and support each other.
If your family is anything like mine, we are all going in a million different directions and it is hard to know what is really going on in every one’s mind. So, set aside time to be intentional about talking, listening, and supporting each other.
BMWK — Do you see a benefit to having a family meeting?
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