How Family Meetings Can Help Your Household

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Being a parent is great—though sometimes it can be demanding and challenging. In our busy day-to-day lives, juggling all kinds of tasks and activities, family time can quickly fade from the spotlight.

Something that really helped to unite our household was holding frequent family meetings. I want to show how coming together with your family regularly can improve your family life. They can help to avoid big family dramas and set your children an example of healthy family dynamics.

This article is about family meetings and how you, your partner, and children could benefit from them. 

Why Can It Be Beneficial to Hold Family Meetings?

Family meetings can help you to stay up-to-date with your children’s lives and development. By having a regular time you can connect with your children, you can find out about their everyday school life and their social contacts. 

Between work, school, socializing, and looking after the household, life can become intensely busy. Sometimes we have neither the time nor energy to analyze the day after we come home.

Especially as working parents, we often come home tired—which our children can feel and see. We simply have no capacity to listen to their stories. This way, we sadly miss out on the little, but often important, details our kids want to share. 

At the same time, we want to know what happens in the life of each family member. Sitting down with your partner and children regularly can contribute to a healthy and trustful relationship between parents and children.

Every child will face a difficult situation or a problem at some point—it’s an important and necessary part of each person’s development. Children can benefit a lot from knowing they’ve got a helping hand and someone to talk to as they grow up. Being able to address problems and seek support from parents can help to build a healthy, trustful, confident character.

What Could Be Topics to Discuss During Family Meetings?

Topics that could be addressed during family meetings can be different in each family meeting. It’s likely you’ll speak about certain things repeatedly, though, such as school-related topics and household activities. 

Here’s a short list of topics, which could be relevant for a family meeting:

  • What happens at school
  • What happens in after school activities
  • Upcoming birthdays
  • Upcoming holidays and traveling plans
  • Household duties and distribution of tasks
  • Good or bad experiences during the past week

Try to mix topics and let everyone contribute to the topic list. You can consider creating a list of the issues you plan on talking about at the beginning of each family meeting.

How Can Family Meetings Help to Address Problems?

If regular family meetings are part of your family life, it can help to solve recurring problems. When providing space and time to address issues, you decrease the chance that these issues become big and uncontrollable. It gives everyone the chance to open up and discuss their feelings and opinions.

Furthermore, family meetings can be a great framework to distribute and readjust responsibilities in the family home. According to age and physical abilities, household activities should be performed by all family members. You might want to discuss which duties can be managed by your kids. 

This gives you the chance to set an example on how to manage a household responsibly and equally. Make sure to distribute the tasks fairly and consider changing the tasks between family members from time to time.

It’s healthy to involve children in the day-to-day duties of a household and family management. They can learn about social structures and grow up knowing the meaning of responsibility. Children can feel valued even more, knowing that they play a vital role in family life.

You, as parents, can benefit from it, too. Easy tasks can be handled by your kids, so you don’t have to deal with everything alone! It might give you some time to breathe, which in return can make you more relaxed and focused on your children. All these little steps can contribute to affirming your family structure.

How Often Should Family Meetings Take Place and How Should They Be Designed?

If you don’t have an urgent reason to hold a family meeting, try to plan this a little in advance. Talk to the other family members about your idea and set a date, a couple of days ahead. Make sure nobody has plans for this particular time frame. 

Try to be flexible with the first date, so everyone is in a good mood for the first family meeting. It might affect the excitement for further meetings negatively if someone is forced to change existing plans.

Implement family meetings as a regular institution for your family. How often your family meets depends on the amount of time you spend with each other during your everyday life. You should decide on the frequency together and consider each of your schedules. All family members should be involved, so it can become a successful experience for all of you.

Your family meetings can help strengthen the bond within your family. You can also think of something to do during or after each family meeting. Eating a particular food item or playing a game can provide an incentive, in case some members need some persuasion. It can become a fun family ritual throughout the coming years.

Be creative about how you design it and adapt it to your family. Adjust the topics to your family’s needs, and always keep it positive. We used a “talking pillow” from the couch in our meetings, which means whoever is holding the pillow is the main speaker for that time. We throw it across to each other to take turns, and the kids love it.

What Should Be Avoided During Family Meetings?

One of the critical rules for holding family meetings should be mutual respect towards each other. Try to address problems appropriately and avoid making accusations. It’s better to name the problem instead of the person who might be causing the problem. 

Try to use positive phrasing—instead of nagging and pointing at an issue, try to offer solutions. Ask the other family members about their ideas and agree on the best option. Set a good example by following the commonly known rules for discussions. 

Here are some of the most important things to remember when holding a family meeting:

  • Everyone should be allowed to speak
  • Everyone should be allowed to finish speaking
  • Reflect on your words before you speak
  • Make sure you use appropriate language

Moreover, don’t pick on a particular person. Be fair and show a positive attitude. Family meetings are supposed to act as a framework for trustful and honest conversations among your family members. 

Family meetings can also be used to point out achievements you and other family members have accomplished. You don’t necessarily need problems to hold a family meeting.

Another point to avoid for successful family meetings is forcing participation. If a family member doesn’t feel like opening up, don’t force them to. A better way of encouraging participation is to show that a family meeting provides a safe environment to address thoughts. If the first meeting doesn’t become a significant breakthrough—don’t panic! The next one might be better and more successful in communicating with your family.

Last but not least, try to avoid dealing with couple-related problems during these family meetings. Your children should not be involved in inner-couple issues. As parents, you should try to act like responsible adults. Your children are looking up to you, and they learn from you about social interactions.

Call a Meeting

Implementing regular family meetings can become a fun, family bond-affirming ritual. It can be the ideal framework to improve communication within your family and to stay up-to-date with each other. 

Family meetings can be an opportunity to help each other solve and address problems. Be aware that your kids learn from you and that your actions have a profound effect on them. The relationships of their adult life are most likely going to be shaped by what they have experienced during childhood. You set the example, so try your best and be thoughtful about teaching communication and interacting with each other.

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.