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Family Meetings Create Meaningful Connections

by | Apr 26, 2021

Family Meetings Have the Power to Unite 

One family ritual has the power to unite your family and help it become a successful family team based on meaningful lifelong connections—the family meeting.

Many people shy away (run away?) from the idea of family meetings because they sound too formal. Some people had family meetings as kids only when someone was in trouble. As a result, having them as adults seems like self-induced punishment.

If neither of those reasons applies to you, you might be one of those people who hate meetings in general because all you can do is listen and get told what to do.

So here’s a little tip, HAVE BETTER MEETINGS!

Here’s a quick summary with some ideas from our Family Bonding Challenge.

Here’s a longer discussion with excellent tips from Big Life Journal.

Family meetings are optimally part of your family life, no matter where you’re at in the process of becoming a family team (whether you’re storming, norming, or performing).

When we and our children are asked to share what’s important to us, what we want to do and how we want to do it, when we’re involved in decisions that affect the family, and when we get to make decisions that directly affect us, we’re more engaged, we learn to give and take better, we’re happier, and we’re healthier.

With the strength of our family team behind us, we’re able to better react and take advantage of the opportunities that many of life’s challenges present.

Family meetings provide regular and direct opportunities to practice open and honest communication, teach important life skills, and strengthen the way you work together as a family team. 

Focus Your Family Meetings

When I was raising my children, we had regular family meetings. Like most families, ours was a busy one. With the ages of our kids spanning over 10 years, there was a lot going on. Keeping everyone on the same page about who, what, where, when, and why was no small feat.

As a tactile/visual learner, I know that if I can’t see it written down, my brain fogs over when it comes to remembering things. Most adults are auditory learners, but I never made it that far and knew that most kids take a while to get to that point as well.

I used a whiteboard (and still do) to help focus our meetings.

Since we all take in information differently, I wanted to make sure everyone could see what was being discussed and make sure that what I wrote down accurately reflected their statements. If I got it wrong, they had the chance to correct me, and with the simple swipe of an eraser or cloth, that miscommunication was literally erased.

A big-ass whiteboard, not just a dinky wall calendar, provided a great place to keep notes, schedules, and anything else we wanted to remind each other of from week to week.

One of the best uses of the whiteboard was for putting up the family calendar that covered three or four months so that everyone got a picture of the future.

At least once a month we’d bring out the whiteboard to talk about things like holidays, school breaks, major family projects, extracurriculars, my work travel schedule, and more.

We used it to talk about the family budget for our next vacation so that, as a team, we all had the opportunity to know not only how much money was available to spend but also to make suggestions and decide collaboratively on where to spend the money.

It was those family meetings with bowls of snacks, jars of extra markers, and the big-ass whiteboard that allowed us to all be on the same page about what we wanted to do, to share our expectations, set priorities, and as parents, to be quiet and listen.

Other Ways to Have a Family Meeting

Do you need a whiteboard for effective family meetings? Absolutely not. It worked for us and might for you. But there are many ways to have a successful family meeting. Have your meetings over dinner. Make a ritual of having a family game night afterward. Talk about what worked that week and what didn’t. Make plans for the future, and share stories from your past. You may need to try a few different approaches before you find the one that works, but there’s a way to make family meetings work for your family.

Whatever you do, just start having family meetings. Keep ’em short (15 minutes) to begin with. Extend them as your kids get older and more involved. Things will change as time goes on, but with family meetings, your relationships will only get stronger. This formal time together, without distractions, is fundamental to uniting your family. Don’t wait to unite your family into a successful family team with meaningful connections. Start having family meetings now! 

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Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting. In his “free time” Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>