The benefit of Family Meetings
Family Meetings are a great way of getting everyone in your family to have their say. It does not matter how old your kids are or how large or small your family is.
And with young children as long as they can communicate just a little, they too will have a huge amount to offer when you hold a family meeting. More importantly whatever the age of the child it will give you a valuable insight into their view of the world which can be very enlightening.
Make your Family Meetings fun
The trick with family meetings is to make it an occasion and to make that occasion fun.
Whether a little bribery is involved to get them to stop what they are doing and sit down, or you make it part of a family meal. The trick with a family meeting is to make sure it has a light hearted feel to it. This is not the time for one sided lectures.
Ignore nose turning up if your children are in their teens, they will soon change their tune if they think they will have some influence about things they consider important.
And that is why family meetings can be so powerful and useful. Family meetings are not just about the parents having their say about stuff. It is the opportunity for the children to express their views and concerns which may be at odds with your own.
My husband normally announced “right we are calling a family meeting” and next minute there is flurry of activity as children appear from various parts of the house and throw themselves on the sofa in positive expectation.
I should like to add, when I was a single parent, I always found them very valuable and often gained some profound advice from my kids. So whatever your circumstances or the current challenge try using “Family Meetings” platform.
When to call Family Meetings
- If you are going on holiday.
- If there is a disagreement between family members
- If you are facing challenges with untidy bedrooms, lack of helpfulness around the house
- Want to set some agreed boundaries
- The children ask to hold a family meeting
In fact there are no end of occasions when you can “hold” family meetings. You might like to make it something you do weekly over a Sunday lunch or tea-time, when all members of the family are present. Of course as children get older this can be something of a challenge – but should not be a reason to cancel or postpone meetings. Instead suggest that they contribute by leaving a note with their own views on current matters.
Have an Agenda
With all good meetings there has to be agenda. So the agenda for your family summer holiday meeting may go something like this:
* When are we are going,
* What are we going to be doing
* What will we do if the weather is bad.
* What games should we take
Maybe you would like to find out what activities your children would to get involved with during the school holidays.
* Who would they like to see
* What are they going to do if it rains
* How much screen time should they be allowed
* What would they like to do that they don’t normally get time to do
* How are they going to help you
Everyone needs to have their say
Make sure everyone (including you) gets a chance to have their say. If the “meeting” gets very rowdy try using an object – a much loved old toy, like a Teddy works well. Whoever speaks needs to be holding him. No one else can have their say until Teddy is back on his cushion or passed to the next speaker.
This is a good opportunity for everyone to voice their opinion on something whether they are a parent or child. Sometimes as the parent you may feel some of other family members views are unreasonable at times. However, this gives you the opportunity to discuss why you have your views and possibly identify ways you can reach some sort of compromise. It can also stop tempers becoming frayed due to lack of communication at a later date.
Family meetings are also good for announcements like “all clothes to be washed three days before you go away or they may not get packed.”
Take Minutes at your Family Meetings
Finally as with all good and properly run meetings minutes need to taken. Make a note – or even better get the kids to minute it with brief bullet points. If you have regular family meetings you might want to have a special Family Meetings note book to record and date the minutes and actions which have been agreed.
If commitments are made, for example tidying bedrooms or household chores you could even ask them to sign the minutes from the family meeting. Of course this is not one sided, you may also be asked to sign and confirm you will do things you have promised to do during the meeting too.
Display your agreed action plan
To help everyone stick to the actions which have been decided on, try displaying the agreed action plan somewhere prominently like on the fridge in the kitchen.
Be consistent and persistent with your Family Meetings
If people don’t do what they say they will do this should be taken up at the next family meeting and will be an opportunity to ask “why” did they not do as they promised they would.
As with most things around parenting being consistent and persistent is important.
Family meetings are great fun and really help get families communicating – and that can only help make family life happier for everyone.