How to Have an Effective Family Meeting
Our families are the foundations on which our children build their self-esteem and their mental and emotional health. The acceptance they experience and the love they see in their family’s eyes reflect an image for them as the young self develops. Having family meetings can be a way to solidify the family foundations that help children feel loved and heard on a regular basis. But if you aren’t used to having meetings, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some suggestions for how to have an effective family meeting.
Make sure everyone is heard.
What? It would be a mad house! Well, maybe not. Adapt this idea to your house and manage it like a good business – your family’s business. We need to set a time to hear our children so they can practice speaking up for themselves. Let them learn to express themselves where they are loved. It is much harder out there in the world where they are not necessarily received with acceptance and grace.
Develop a family mission statement.
Talk about what is important to you. For example, what does it mean to be part of this family? What are our core values? What are we proud of?
Establish some guidelines for the meetings.
How should you manage your time together? Decide who will record your meetings. What are the meeting rules? The time limit?
Everyone gets a say in the topics of discussion.
Your kids can tell you what they want to talk about and you can do the same. These discussions help to form a family identity and that helps with a personal identity for each of you. When kids know more about their parents’ values they are better able to be confident, to express ideas, and to meet challenges. Family meetings empower kids and help them learn decision-making. While parents are still in charge, the children need the experience of being heard and respected for their opinions.
Families may find the weekly meeting difficult at first but keep at it. Talk about money, talk about what was good about the week and also what stunk. Rich conversations develop family cohesion. Even when there is conflict, which all families have, you keep working it through and you become a stronger unit if you stick with it. Family meetings develop confidence, grit and humor. And when faced with differences over important ideas, these are important mental strengths to draw on. These are lessons best learned at home.
Dorothy Thomas is a former Staff Therapist at Council for Relationships. Interested in trying therapy? Request an appointment now.