In our busy culture where we are rushing just about everywhere and feeling like we don’t have time for anything else to do, the idea of finding time for a family meeting seems like just another demand on our time. But quality time, were we all have a voice, where we can be heard and take the time to listen to others is important. It could be after a meal, before “game night”, or after a Saturday morning of sports. Finding this time to connect in a meaningful way can validate everyone in the family and bring along a sense of harmony. Here I will give you some basic tips and an outline for hosting your family meeting.
Why should we have a family meeting when we see each other all the time? Family meetings are different from the daily interactions where we are working on homework or getting ready for work or school. Family meetings are a special time we set aside to think about our role in the family, set personal goals and share those with the family, and have an opportunity to share our own concerns, desires/wishes, and show regard for those we live with.
The Goal: The goal of a family meeting is to provide a space for all members to discuss, contribute, and focus on what they offer to the family.
The Process: Meetings should be consistent (same day and time of day – ie., Sundays after dinner), brief (around 20 minutes), structured (so everyone has a turn, gets their voice heard, and sets personal goals that benefit the group), and is respectful of all. Selecting a time convenient for all and a place that is comfortable for all sets the stage. Having desert, or a snack is a good idea. Offering rewards for moving towards one’s goal is fun – it could be stickers, or everyone could say a creative cheer for that person
Rules provide a forum for fair play – the following guidelines are suggested and certainly can be modified.
1. Select a time of day and location that is comfortable and consistent for all. Bringing a snack or dessert makes it more enjoyable.
2. Decide on a facilitator (mom or dad), a recorder (someone who takes minutes), a time keeper (someone who moves things along), and any other roles you might want (ie., someone could reward stickers or make up cheers for rewarding those who have had a good week).
3. Each person gets a turn to review the week with the following questions: (Have a ball, or object to pass around so that each person gets an uninterrupted chance to reflect on the question).
- How was your week? Was there a high point/low point?
- What would you like to improve on this week? Did you move toward your self-improvement goal from last week?
- How can you contribute to the household? Did you contribute last week?
- Share a compliment with each member of the house. For instance: “ I like how you took out the trash without me asking – thank you!”
4. Make up a team cheer – or “On three: GO family name !”