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.
Team meetings aren’t just for solving family problems. They’re for preventing them. They’re for growing together, laughing together, and creating an environment where open communication, trust, and respect can thrive.
Some families use nightly dinner as their opportunity to talk. Some have a weekly scheduled family night with special food and games or planned activities.
Either style works. There’s basically one absolute in making a family meeting work for your team.
You actually have to have them.
Everyone is busy. Our kids maybe even more than us as they get older with activities and clubs and homework. It’s easy to say you’ll have a meeting sometime over the weekend. Then before you know it, it’s Sunday night, you’re exhausted your kids are starting the essay that’s due tomorrow and no one is in the mood to talk. So schedule the meetings, earlier in the weekend or during the week if possible.
Of course there are other conditions you likely want to establish like making it a judge-free zone so that everyone feels safe to share. Coming up with rules for your particular family meetings is part of what should happen at your first few meetings.
Other than that, 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.
How to Start
- Pick a time when everyone in the family can regularly attend. Consistency is important. Find a time in the family schedule that you can block out EVERY WEEK that you can all be together. When you’re first starting out or you have young children, you may only need 15 minutes.
- 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.
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Somer is the Chief Content Officer at Raising Families living in Southern California with her husband and five-year-old son. She spent 10 years in the architecture field as a designer and medical planner and now applies her love of integrative thinking and big-picture planning to her family and career. Read full bio >>