Family meetings are a great way to keep family communication flowing and foster unity. While problems around the house might be discussed at family meetings, they are also a time for family members to compliment each other and talk about schedules. In order for family meetings to be successful, it’s important to plan times, locations, rules and agendas ahead of time.
Set a time that works for everyone involved. A Sunday evening before the beginning of the new week is one possibility. Families normally have meetings each week or every other week. Family meetings shouldn’t run longer than about 45 minutes. If you have younger kids, it's a good idea to keep the first few meetings between 10 and 20 minutes, then gradually increase the time so they can get used to sitting through the meetings according to the article "10 Tips for Successful Family Meetings" on Colorado State University's website.
Choose a comfortable location for the meetings such as the dining or living room. It’s a good idea to have family meetings in the same location each week, but don’t shy away from picking a fun location away from home if you’ve had a tense week. A pizza place or ice cream parlor are easy, fun locations.
Plan the agenda for your meeting and keep it consistent. It might include sharing and coordinating schedules, complimenting each other, discussing and solving problems, a fun activity and information on the next family meeting.
Design and post a chart showing the agenda ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect. Keep the chart up as a reminder.
Discuss and write down rules before the meeting. Possible rules include everyone gets a chance to talk, no interrupting and no putting others down. At the first meeting you might also explain using “I” rather than “You” statements to avoid blaming others. For example, “I feel frustrated when you do x, y, z,” is better than saying, “You make me frustrated when you do x, y, z.”
Designate a leader for the first couple meetings, ideally a responsible adult family member. After that, it’s important to rotate the role so everyone feels they're involved. Adults can help younger family members who aren’t quite ready to lead on their own. Other roles you might consider are a secretary to keep notes and a time keeper to make sure the meetings run on time.
Plan activities to help younger children share their ideas. They might draw a picture of what they want to do or give something special to someone as a compliment.
Gather supplies for the meeting. A family calendar where you can make notes of weekly activities and family meetings, a list of activities, paper and a pen are all supplies to have handy.
Plan a fun activity for after the family meeting. This ensures the meeting ends on a good note and encourages more bonding.
Items you will need
- Poster board
- Family calendar
- Activity lists
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