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Meetings have become an essential piece of our workplaces, schools, and extracurricular organizations. It gives you a place to organize communication, provide leadership opportunities and do progress checks. In other words, it’s a scheduled time to make sure everything is going well. Unfortunately, meetings have received a bad rap because if they’re run poorly, they’re a snooze. We’ll go over the essentials to make sure there’s excitement around this special time together.
When family meetings are planned ahead, they provide an opportunity to strengthen values, discuss timely matters, track goals and build each other up. Holding these meetings also gives parents the opportunity to model leadership, communication and problem solving skills and for their kids to practice them. Each person at the table brings value and contribution to the overall family.
Another advantage to family meetings is creating a dependable time to be able to discuss critical issues. Have you ever experienced this situation as a parent? Something happens in the house, perhaps a spilled drink onto your favorite jacket, and you react emotionally. Then a few hours later you wish you had handled it differently. I’ve been there! Problem solving is usually more successful when emotions are running low. Many of these topics can be sent to the family meeting to discuss later when things cool down. It may even be helpful to have a designated notebook to write down any discussion topics that arise during the week.
It’s never too early to start holding these weekly meetings. If your children are young, the meeting may be shorter and simpler. If your children have a wider range of ages, finding a contribution for each family member and allowing grace for the younger ones is crucial. The experience of watching parents and older siblings embody core values and discuss issues is essential in creating a caring and respectful family culture.
So without further delay, here’s the new meeting plan that you and your kids will love!
5 Step Family Meeting Structure
- Family Value Share – Tell of a time since the last meeting that you, or alternately how another family member, embodied a family value. If you don’t have family values established, simply go with a “good value” share to learn what each person views as important.
- Discussion Topics – All family members have the opportunity to bring up, discuss and find solutions to issues that have come up since the last meeting. This could be anything from practice schedules to misuse of tech time.
- Tough Truths – Any family member can provide constructive criticism to any other family member. The purpose is to help each other identify behaviors or mindsets that may be hindering personal growth. It’s important to not dodge the tough topics.
- Give Compliments – Family members give compliments to each other. We vary it by giving a compliment to someone on our right or left, anyone of our choosing or everyone. This is a great opportunity to build each other up and focus on the positive choices being made in the family.
- Ending Gesture – This action designates the end of the meeting. We give a firm handshake to each family member, while my wife prefers to hug them all!
Feel free to play with it and create a format that meets your family’s needs. It may help to start with just one or two of these aspects and gradually add more. The key is to keep it consistent, so you can create a family culture that appreciates each member of the family.
For extra article research, we collected informal feedback from our children on family meetings. Here’s what our 11 year old said: “It reminds me that we’re in this together. I don’t always feel like I’m heard at school. I look forward to being able to contribute and be a part of our weekly family meetings. It really sets me up for a good week.”
In conclusion, start to play around with a family meeting style that fits you. Use our structure as a resource and understand that it’s simply there to get you started. You really can’t go wrong as long as you’re staying consistent, involving everyone in the process, and modeling positive leadership.
Start small. Start with a few steps. But start soon! Your family will be glad you did.
Joe Hashey is a former high school teacher and award winning small business owner. He runs The Strong Family Project podcast along with his wife, Mell, and their 3 children.