Strengthen Your Family With Family Meetings

Posted Jun 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Family meetings should be pleasant for everyone.
  • Listen to and respect all family members.
  • Celebrate successes and handle challenges before they become problems.

We want our family members to feel loved and respected; to feel connected. But we are busy with work, school, and activities. It is easy to feel disconnected, even when we are together.

Family meetings can help us come together and find each other again. They can be fun and strengthen family bonds.

Why have family meetings?

Family meetings can:

  • Bring family together
  • Improve communication
  • Achieve goals
  • Reinforce values
  • Discuss things before they become problems
  • Build a strong support network

What should you talk about?

Talk about stress and how to handle it. What are people dealing with? Comfort them. Discuss ways to handle the situation and stress.

Talk about upcoming family events, like school events or birthdays. Plan vacations and family activities.

Talk about challenges and set goals. Identify group or individual challenges. Pick goals to handle them.

Talk about successes. Praise each other for good decisions or making progress on goals.

Talk about your values. Why are they important? What things challenge them? Discuss ways to honor your values.

Talk about safety. Make an emergency plan. Share important phone numbers. Decide on a meet up place if you cannot go home.

Talk about a social “escape” plan for children and young adults. Help them leave their peers without embarrassment. Consider “punishment-free rescue” so one bad decision does not turn into two or three.

For example, Hannah wanted to leave a party without looking uncool. She texted her mother their code word: FINE! Her mother called and pretended to get upset with her. Hannah now had an excuse to leave.

Talk about social issues, such as:

  • Social media
  • Bullying
  • Stereotyping
  • Peer pressure
  • Drugs and alcohol use/misuse

Ground rules

Make family meetings a normal part of family life. Decide how often you want to have meetings. They can be every week, twice a month, or once a month.

Family meetings should never be about punishment. They should be positive, even when you talk about tough subjects. Handle discipline at another time.

Family meetings should be about:

  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Valuing every person as an individual
  • Understanding and respecting each other

Keep it short. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes. You can keep going if the family wants to.

Let everyone participate. Everyone can share their thoughts and feelings. No one may interrupt or disrespect the person who is talking.

Model good behavior and problem solving. Teach children and young adults how to handle conflict in healthy ways. Use “I” statements to discuss problems.

Maybe you want everyone to help around the house more. Do not say, “You never help! Don’t you care about our house?” Say, “I feel overwhelmed with all the cleaning. Let’s all help take care of our home.”
 
Let children be a big part of problem solving. Don’t assume you know what they will say or that they will be selfish or inappropriate.

Parents and caregivers should have the final vote. Make sure everyone follows the ground rules. But also listen and let people make decisions as a group.

Get started

Announce the meeting ahead of time. Pick a day of the week and time. Consider tying it to a meal or other regular event.

Make an agenda, or plan. Let everyone know what you will talk about. Anyone can add items to the agenda.

The Smith family has meetings on “Pizza Wednesday.” Every other Wednesday, they get pizza for dinner. They make an agenda while they eat. After dinner, they clear the table and start their meeting.

Have someone keep a record of your meetings. In a notebook or on a computer, list:

  • Topics of discussion
  • People’s main points
  • Strategies for tough issues
  • Future plans
  • Individual and group goals
  • Success and progress toward goals
  • Decisions and agreements

Plan a fun activity. Even a family picnic can create strong bonds. Give everyone a job. Who will buy and prepare food? Or pack a blanket? Or get plates and napkins?

Check back on issues from previous meetings. Is there progress? Why or why not? Is it time to find other strategies?

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children
www.healthychildren.org

Department of Homeland Security
www.ready.gov

The Center for Parenting Education
http://centerforparentingeducation.org/

By Beth Landau
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics' "How to Have a Family Meeting." (2015) www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx; American Psychological Association's "Managing Stress for a Healthy Family." (2011) www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress.aspx; Department of Homeland Security's "Call a Family Meeting and Make a Plan!" (2013) www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan; The Center for Parenting Education's "Holding Family Meetings." (2017) http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/

Summary

  • Family meetings should be pleasant for everyone.
  • Listen to and respect all family members.
  • Celebrate successes and handle challenges before they become problems.

We want our family members to feel loved and respected; to feel connected. But we are busy with work, school, and activities. It is easy to feel disconnected, even when we are together.

Family meetings can help us come together and find each other again. They can be fun and strengthen family bonds.

Why have family meetings?

Family meetings can:

  • Bring family together
  • Improve communication
  • Achieve goals
  • Reinforce values
  • Discuss things before they become problems
  • Build a strong support network

What should you talk about?

Talk about stress and how to handle it. What are people dealing with? Comfort them. Discuss ways to handle the situation and stress.

Talk about upcoming family events, like school events or birthdays. Plan vacations and family activities.

Talk about challenges and set goals. Identify group or individual challenges. Pick goals to handle them.

Talk about successes. Praise each other for good decisions or making progress on goals.

Talk about your values. Why are they important? What things challenge them? Discuss ways to honor your values.

Talk about safety. Make an emergency plan. Share important phone numbers. Decide on a meet up place if you cannot go home.

Talk about a social “escape” plan for children and young adults. Help them leave their peers without embarrassment. Consider “punishment-free rescue” so one bad decision does not turn into two or three.

For example, Hannah wanted to leave a party without looking uncool. She texted her mother their code word: FINE! Her mother called and pretended to get upset with her. Hannah now had an excuse to leave.

Talk about social issues, such as:

  • Social media
  • Bullying
  • Stereotyping
  • Peer pressure
  • Drugs and alcohol use/misuse

Ground rules

Make family meetings a normal part of family life. Decide how often you want to have meetings. They can be every week, twice a month, or once a month.

Family meetings should never be about punishment. They should be positive, even when you talk about tough subjects. Handle discipline at another time.

Family meetings should be about:

  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Valuing every person as an individual
  • Understanding and respecting each other

Keep it short. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes. You can keep going if the family wants to.

Let everyone participate. Everyone can share their thoughts and feelings. No one may interrupt or disrespect the person who is talking.

Model good behavior and problem solving. Teach children and young adults how to handle conflict in healthy ways. Use “I” statements to discuss problems.

Maybe you want everyone to help around the house more. Do not say, “You never help! Don’t you care about our house?” Say, “I feel overwhelmed with all the cleaning. Let’s all help take care of our home.”
 
Let children be a big part of problem solving. Don’t assume you know what they will say or that they will be selfish or inappropriate.

Parents and caregivers should have the final vote. Make sure everyone follows the ground rules. But also listen and let people make decisions as a group.

Get started

Announce the meeting ahead of time. Pick a day of the week and time. Consider tying it to a meal or other regular event.

Make an agenda, or plan. Let everyone know what you will talk about. Anyone can add items to the agenda.

The Smith family has meetings on “Pizza Wednesday.” Every other Wednesday, they get pizza for dinner. They make an agenda while they eat. After dinner, they clear the table and start their meeting.

Have someone keep a record of your meetings. In a notebook or on a computer, list:

  • Topics of discussion
  • People’s main points
  • Strategies for tough issues
  • Future plans
  • Individual and group goals
  • Success and progress toward goals
  • Decisions and agreements

Plan a fun activity. Even a family picnic can create strong bonds. Give everyone a job. Who will buy and prepare food? Or pack a blanket? Or get plates and napkins?

Check back on issues from previous meetings. Is there progress? Why or why not? Is it time to find other strategies?

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children
www.healthychildren.org

Department of Homeland Security
www.ready.gov

The Center for Parenting Education
http://centerforparentingeducation.org/

By Beth Landau
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics' "How to Have a Family Meeting." (2015) www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx; American Psychological Association's "Managing Stress for a Healthy Family." (2011) www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress.aspx; Department of Homeland Security's "Call a Family Meeting and Make a Plan!" (2013) www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan; The Center for Parenting Education's "Holding Family Meetings." (2017) http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/

Summary

  • Family meetings should be pleasant for everyone.
  • Listen to and respect all family members.
  • Celebrate successes and handle challenges before they become problems.

We want our family members to feel loved and respected; to feel connected. But we are busy with work, school, and activities. It is easy to feel disconnected, even when we are together.

Family meetings can help us come together and find each other again. They can be fun and strengthen family bonds.

Why have family meetings?

Family meetings can:

  • Bring family together
  • Improve communication
  • Achieve goals
  • Reinforce values
  • Discuss things before they become problems
  • Build a strong support network

What should you talk about?

Talk about stress and how to handle it. What are people dealing with? Comfort them. Discuss ways to handle the situation and stress.

Talk about upcoming family events, like school events or birthdays. Plan vacations and family activities.

Talk about challenges and set goals. Identify group or individual challenges. Pick goals to handle them.

Talk about successes. Praise each other for good decisions or making progress on goals.

Talk about your values. Why are they important? What things challenge them? Discuss ways to honor your values.

Talk about safety. Make an emergency plan. Share important phone numbers. Decide on a meet up place if you cannot go home.

Talk about a social “escape” plan for children and young adults. Help them leave their peers without embarrassment. Consider “punishment-free rescue” so one bad decision does not turn into two or three.

For example, Hannah wanted to leave a party without looking uncool. She texted her mother their code word: FINE! Her mother called and pretended to get upset with her. Hannah now had an excuse to leave.

Talk about social issues, such as:

  • Social media
  • Bullying
  • Stereotyping
  • Peer pressure
  • Drugs and alcohol use/misuse

Ground rules

Make family meetings a normal part of family life. Decide how often you want to have meetings. They can be every week, twice a month, or once a month.

Family meetings should never be about punishment. They should be positive, even when you talk about tough subjects. Handle discipline at another time.

Family meetings should be about:

  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Valuing every person as an individual
  • Understanding and respecting each other

Keep it short. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes. You can keep going if the family wants to.

Let everyone participate. Everyone can share their thoughts and feelings. No one may interrupt or disrespect the person who is talking.

Model good behavior and problem solving. Teach children and young adults how to handle conflict in healthy ways. Use “I” statements to discuss problems.

Maybe you want everyone to help around the house more. Do not say, “You never help! Don’t you care about our house?” Say, “I feel overwhelmed with all the cleaning. Let’s all help take care of our home.”
 
Let children be a big part of problem solving. Don’t assume you know what they will say or that they will be selfish or inappropriate.

Parents and caregivers should have the final vote. Make sure everyone follows the ground rules. But also listen and let people make decisions as a group.

Get started

Announce the meeting ahead of time. Pick a day of the week and time. Consider tying it to a meal or other regular event.

Make an agenda, or plan. Let everyone know what you will talk about. Anyone can add items to the agenda.

The Smith family has meetings on “Pizza Wednesday.” Every other Wednesday, they get pizza for dinner. They make an agenda while they eat. After dinner, they clear the table and start their meeting.

Have someone keep a record of your meetings. In a notebook or on a computer, list:

  • Topics of discussion
  • People’s main points
  • Strategies for tough issues
  • Future plans
  • Individual and group goals
  • Success and progress toward goals
  • Decisions and agreements

Plan a fun activity. Even a family picnic can create strong bonds. Give everyone a job. Who will buy and prepare food? Or pack a blanket? Or get plates and napkins?

Check back on issues from previous meetings. Is there progress? Why or why not? Is it time to find other strategies?

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children
www.healthychildren.org

Department of Homeland Security
www.ready.gov

The Center for Parenting Education
http://centerforparentingeducation.org/

By Beth Landau
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics' "How to Have a Family Meeting." (2015) www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx; American Psychological Association's "Managing Stress for a Healthy Family." (2011) www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress.aspx; Department of Homeland Security's "Call a Family Meeting and Make a Plan!" (2013) www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan; The Center for Parenting Education's "Holding Family Meetings." (2017) http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/

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