Keeping Your Family Connected With Family Meetings

How often do you and your family sit down to just talk and truly listen?

You may feel like your family is constantly together, with running errands, school drop-offs, and pickups, weekend trips for recitals, or sporting event games. But in truth, this time doesn’t always give most families the time to connect, listen, feel heard, and get feedback.

A great idea for your family, whether there are two of you or twelve of you, is to make time for family meetings.

There are a few ways to handle this, based upon the dynamics of your family. Of course, not everyone is going to be on board with the idea of a family meeting. They may be picturing official meetings with notes and whiteboard calendars.

We’ve got a few tips to help you set up successful family meetings.

The logic behind a family meeting

Your family may make a point to eat dinner together most nights of the week, but the conversation may be steering more towards the lighthearted, or it could be focused on the television show you’re watching together. Everyone might be distracted as they eat, scroll through social media, listen to music, or generally tune each other out.

Having a family meeting offers the chance to cut off the distractions and establish better communication and connectivity within your family. It also provides the opportunity to resolve some of the issues your family is facing, including:

  • Focusing on specific concerns within the family. Perhaps you need to establish a new family chore chart, or perhaps someone hasn’t been following the chart. Or it could be that there have been concerns with excessive screen time that need to be addressed as a family. A family meeting will allow everyone to say their piece, be heard, and listen.
  • Planning out the week or month. Today’s families are busier than ever. With a busy family comes a busy schedule. A weekly meeting can be the best way for you to communicate your schedules, get help with logistical concerns, and make sure everyone gets to where they need to be.
  • Working through changes to the family. Perhaps you’ve been offered a new job in a new city, or maybe you’re considering switching jobs to one that has longer hours but better pay. It can be helpful for every member of the family to feel heard and involved in these kinds of big decisions and family milestones.
  • Ensure transitions and changes go smoother. It could be that the family has expanded by one, or parents are divorcing. Allowing every family member to voice their thoughts or feelings can make a significant difference in how the transition goes smoothly.
  • Learn how everyone in the family is doing. A family meeting is an excellent opportunity to check in with one another and to discuss how everyone is doing, particularly if there’s been a challenging situation for everyone to work through.

Children and teens can get just as caught up in their schedules as adults. It can be very important to have family time, decompress, and share what’s going on with them.

Every person who shares your home should take part in the family meeting. This could include parents, stepparents, grandparents, and cousins. If a co-parent lives outside the house, they may appreciate being invited to the occasional family meeting dinner.

The benefits of family meetings

Selling the idea of a family meeting to your family might be challenging. If you can help them understand all of the associated benefits, it might prove easier to get everyone on board.

Some of the key benefits of family meetings include:

  • A family meeting serves as a reliable way of improving communication between every member of the family.
  • Children and teens can see an increase in their self-esteem, as they feel that their voice matters and is heard. Family meetings will also help them bring up concerns and give them a safe space to work through them.
  • Family meetings can help teens learn how to express themselves, compromise and problem solve.
  • Family meetings can offer an opportunity to reinforce the rules of the house and the values of your family.

Family meetings also give you a chance to celebrate the achievements of your children. Whether good grades, a new karate belt, or something else entirely, a family meeting can be a lovely way to celebrate everything your family has been accomplishing.

Planning family meetings

Your family meeting can take on any form. The important thing is that you and every member of the family can connect and communicate. Keep in mind that some of your family members may be slow to open up. Don’t push them into talking, instead ask questions to prompt them to talk about their day or how things are going with school and their friends.

Family meetings don’t need to take on a formal tone. This might be harder for some of the members of your family to feel at ease. Family dinner or a picnic in the backyard could suffice.

Whatever the location and time, set some boundaries and rules when hosting a family meeting:

  • No gadgets or devices should be used during the meetings.
  • Each person gets their chance to speak without being interrupted.
  • Create a quick agenda for yourself, so you can be sure to cover every topic you’d like to discuss.
  • Try to avoid arguments with other members of the family. A hearty discussion is a great option, but not when it takes an argumentative turn.
  • Consider weekly and monthly meetings with the family. Weekly family dinners or drives to the beach could cover the things that have cropped up during the week, while monthly meetings offer the opportunity to do more of a deep dive into the things on your mind.

A family meeting could be as short as fifteen minutes or as long as a full hour. It will all depend on your family’s needs to communicate better.

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