Holding a family meeting is a great way to promote connection and reinforce healthy interpersonal relationships amongst family members. Family meetings can serve as a model for loving and open communication amongst family members that can positively impact your child and/or children's view of what healthy relationships look like within and outside the family system.
A family meeting can be as informal or formal as you'd like and can be adjusted in terms of topics discussed to fit your family's needs.
Are Family Meetings a Good Idea?
Holding a regular family meeting can be a powerful tool when it comes to promoting family connectivity, bonding, and increasing healthy communication amongst family members. Remember that family meetings are not necessarily the place to resolve issues that have to do with only one other family member. This is especially true if there are young members of the family who the fight or argument may not be appropriate to discuss in front of based on its nature.
What Do You Discuss in a Family Meeting?
Family meeting topics:
- Weekly updates
- Problem solving help for one or more family members
- Providing support to one or more individuals in the family
- Discussing a topic that impacts the entire family (moving, donating items, adopting a pet, travel, etc.)
- Coordinating schedules
- Creating a list of family values together
- Resolving a family related issue- keep in mind that this must be appropriate for your child and/or children and that parents or caregivers resolving couple related issues is not appropriate in this forum
- Praise family members and share examples of healthy, loving, supportive, and communicative behaviors
Tips for a Successful Family Meeting
To hold a successful family meeting:
- Set family meeting ground rules
- Keep meetings short and base the length on the age and maturity of your child and/or children
- Avoid letting one person steam roll others or take over the meeting
- One adult or caregiver should run the meeting to keep it running smoothly and to ensure that everyone gets a chance to share
- Be mindful that toddlers and young children may not be interested in participating and that's okay- allow them to observe the meeting and over time they may participate more
- Don't force everyone to participate- know that it may take time for some family members to open up
- Start and end the meeting with something positive (a funny story, reiterate a family value or motto, share each person's high point of the week)
- Positively reinforce participation by giving praise
- Remember it can take some time to get into a new routine, and even if the meeting doesn't go as planned, keep at it
- Make a family meeting schedule- same time every week, every two weeks, or every month depending on your family's needs
- Use I statements and ask permission before discussing something that has to do with someone else (for example: I'm wondering if Dean is comfortable with me sharing....)
Benefits of Family Meetings
Family meetings offer plenty of benefits. Some include:
- Provide an appropriate example of open, honest, and direct communication
- Model loving, empathetic, and respectful familial behavior
- Encourage family connection and bonding
- Strengthen family values
- Ensure everyone feels heard and respected
- Teach children about conflict resolution and active listening
- A forum to express emotions in a healthy way
- Empower family members to build healthy relationships with each other and have a voice within the family system
Who to Invite to a Family Meeting
Family meetings may be open to all individuals living within the household. This may include extended family members who are also living within the home. It is truly up to you who you think is appropriate to invite to your family meeting. If someone has some exciting news, you may consider extending the invitation to family members not living in your household as well.
Family Meeting Agenda Worksheet
Creating a family meeting agenda can help the meeting stay on track, while allowing all members within the family an opportunity to share.
Family Meeting Template Printable for Ground Rules
Setting some simple rules is an easy way to make sure your family meetings foster respect and encourage everyone to share their thoughts in a safe environment. If possible, print and post your rules in a spot that everyone can see, and recite the rules prior to each meeting to ensure that everyone remembers them.
Importance of Family Meetings
Setting up a family meeting is a great way to encourage open communication while connecting with those within your family.