The family meeting is a regularly scheduled meeting of all family members who want to attend. The purpose is to make plans for the family chores and family fun, to express complaints and positive feelings, to resolve conflicts and to make other sorts of decisions.

In today’s busy world families are so detached and there seems to be a real need for the closeness some of knew at one time in our lives. Bringing us closer means a willingness to change a pattern. The pattern change can have lasting positive effects. A time to really talk to each other, and share, even if only for a couple times a week.

The guidelines for Family Meetings are listed as follow:

Meet at a regularly scheduled time

Treat all members as equals and let everyone be heard

Reflective listening and I-messages are used to encouraged members to express their feelings and beliefs clearly

Pinpoint the real issues and avoid being sidetracked by other issues

Encourage members by recognizing the good things happening in the family

Remember to plan for family fun and recreation

It is great if you can agree upon the length of the meeting and hold to the limits established

As a family you may want to record plans and decisions made and post the record as a reminder of what went on
Some of the pitfalls to avoid in Family Meetings are as follow:

Meeting only to handle crises and skipping meetings or changing the time

Dominating by members who believe they have more rights than other members, or failing to listen to and encourage each other

Members can get caught up in dealing with symptoms such as bickering and quarreling, instead of the purposes of the behavior

Focusing on complaints and criticisms or limiting the meetings to job distribution and discipline can be a real pitfall at a family meeting. Respect is necessary not just for one member, but everyone involved, and it requires sticking to the time limits rather than ignoring them.

Last but not the least is failing to put agreements into action
Actions do speak loudly! Good luck in creating a good Family Meeting. It may well be the key to the positive growth and development of a healthy family. A phrase that really sticks out in my mind as I write this column is: “The family that plays together, stays together!”

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