Meetings are often reserved for the corporate setting, pictured in a boardroom where different colleagues sit together for a presentation or discussion. But meetings can also happen at a non-workplace setting – at home! Family meetings are important because all members of the family have a chance to speak their minds with everyone else in the family listening.
How do we conduct a fruitful family meeting? What should happen during the time together? Read on for the importance of family meetings.
What is a Family Meeting?
It is a discussion involving all family members, whether it is about an issue or decision affecting one member or all members. It could be about a problem, or to plan for the next holiday, agree on a chore schedule or to prevent recurring problems.
Why a Family Meeting?
Aside from having a platform to discuss and solve issues, there is much to learn for everyone during family meetings. Learning to communicate, listen, empathise, respect differences, verbalising appreciation, problem-solve, working together as a team to solve problems and dissecting issues are part and parcel of growing together with family. Family meetings are an avenue to get everyone heard with everyone present.
As children get older with their own schedules and busyness sets in, it might be hard to find a suitable meeting time. Family meetings ensure family matters do not take a backseat as they often do, with only adults taking responsibility for all household matters.
It is a way of fostering accountability and a sense of duty when being present at family meetings and actively contributing. This also helps the family to be more cohesive when family meetings are done right.
How to Conduct a Family Meeting
First, set an agenda for the family meeting. Send this out or communicate this to all members a few days before the meeting. Invite others to add to the agenda as well. One way to share the agenda is to put it on the fridge or living room.
The agenda can include past incidents, future happenings, finances, thanking one another and acknowledging each other’s achievements.
Each meeting should not take too long, ideally between 15 to 30 minutes, held weekly or fortnightly.
Start with some ground rules, one person to speak at a time, no devices allowed and discussion should be kept respectful.
Then you can start with appreciation – sharing one thing about each member of the family you appreciate and give each member a compliment. Take turns and go around.
After this, give everyone a chance to speak with a make-do microphone like a special bottle or a stick.
Brainstorm solutions to an issue as a family and accept any wacky and funny ideas. Let the children go first, then refine their ideas and focus on the possible solutions. The family can assess the solutions together and a scribe can document all of it and cross out those that may not work so well.
To conclude the meeting, one member can choose a fun game and each person takes turn to choose at each family meeting.
Dos and Don’ts at the Family Meeting
The Family Meeting is NOT an opportunity to discipline, lecture, lamblast the children. Yes parents, family meetings are fun, family-centric opportunities to listen to one another.
Do encourage a lot of listening, less talking unless necessary.
Do listen to the children more, so they really feel a sense of ownership in their role in the meeting.
The focus shouldn’t be covering all of the agenda, some issues take more time to work out. The objective is not to solve all the problems but value the process and pace. This is also a good practice working things out not just during the meeting but at each member’s own pace.
Family Meetings Can be Fruitful, Fun and a Reminder of Each Member’s Importance
Let’s make time for our family and perhaps one way to make it “mandatory” is to have family meetings. These might be the best times to let our hair down, learn more about each other and build the relationships which should be the most important in our lives.