Family Meeting

Can a six-year old run a meeting? With some help and some guidelines, the answer is yes.Holding a family meeting

At the Family Education Center, we help families develop and practice the skills to nourish their relationships. One of the tools we use and teach is the family meeting, which is a meeting held in a mutually supportive, encouraging, agreed-upon format. All members of the family participate in the meeting, even young children.

In today’s harried, time-pressed family, the opportunities to spend time with each other are often more limited than they were in earlier times. Shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” depict times when parents and children had the luxury of long, heartwarming conversations around the family dinner table. Family meetings are designed to fill that gap.


Family Meeting Guidelines

The Family Meeting has simple guidelines. The keys to success are commitment and flexibility.  Guidelines can be modified to fit each family’s style.

1. The Family Meeting is held at a regularly scheduled time and day of the week. The family decides the length of meetings; often one/half hour for families with small children, a little longer for older children or teenagers.

2. The Family Meeting may be held even if a member of the family can’t or won’t participate.  It is far better, however, if everyone agrees to take part.

3. Discussing only problems, chores, or gripes will cause family members to lose interest. Include positive mention of family members’ contributions or achievements.

4. Plan at least one fun activity for the whole family.  A large calendar, which lists family activities and scheduling needs, can be very helpful.

5. Decisions are reached by brainstorming all possible solutions, in an effort to reach consensus whenever possible.  Because of this, parental edicts are usually avoided.

Benefits of family meetings

Lack of effective communication is one of the major symptoms of troubled families. Not talking or listening to each other contributes to other, deeper problems, including thwarted development, unresolved emotional problems and mental illness, and even drug and alcohol abuse. Family meetings provide an opportunity to avoid these problems by fostering rich, deep communication.

But who is in charge?

Family Meeting is a powerful process.  Parents and children treat each other respectfully during the meeting. Parents do not dominate, or impose their opinions until all feelings and opinions have been heard.

The meetings are run by a chairperson, who can be parent or child.  Another family member acts as secretary, recording any decisions made at the meeting.

Based on good communication

Good communication requires willingness to listen and respond, to give and receive, and to acknowledge what is being communicated without manipulating, limiting or denying reality. Good communication is the ability to openly express one’s own feelings and thoughts without judgment.  Good communication is respectful of all concerned.

Communication includes not only words, but also facial expression, intonation, volume, touch, and body movement.