Meaningful life-long connections with your family are not created solely through pizza & movie nights. Yes, those are fun. However, the work of building trust, respect, cooperation, and deep-rooted commitment to one another comes from talking to each other, not watching other people talk on the screen.
Family meetings are like a group huddle in sports. Everyone is listening; everyone is participating. You’re making a plan together so everyone can do their part to help the team succeed. When you’re first starting out or you have young children, you may only need 15 minutes.
Find a time in the family schedule that you can block out EVERY WEEK (e.g. Saturday 9–9:15 a.m.) that you can all be together.
At the first meeting, talk about why you want to have a family meeting at all. This may be a big change for your team, and you need everyone’s buy-in to make it work.
If there’s resistance, remind everyone you are not the family secretary, maid, or chauffeur. You are, in fact, the family LEADER. Your spouse/partner should be your co-leader. Leaders train, mentor, enable, and support. They do not manage every detail themselves.
In future meetings, spend the time talking about plans for the week, vacations or events that need planning, fun things that happened at school, or what you did at work. You can teach each other a skill, tell jokes, have a family book club, meal plan, or anything else your family wants to do.
Things will change as time goes on. This formal time together, without distractions, is fundamental to uniting your family.
Tips for Family Meeting Beginners:
- Pick a time when everyone in the family can regularly attend. Consistency is important.
- Involve food.
- Put away all phones and other distractions.
- Be flexible with your expectations. Give it time and adapt as needed.
- Make it fun.
Benefits of Consistent Family Meetings:
- Provides a safe space to solve problems together.
- Reduces stress from pent-up emotions.
- Supports the family team spirit by everyone working together.
- Gives an opportunity to intentionally reinforce family culture and values.
- Teaches vital life skills to kids.
- Boosts confidence for parents.