In these busy times we live in, it is often difficult to sit down and discuss everyday issues that affect the whole family. Holding family meetings is a great way to get the family together and discuss general family issues. They can have a transforming effect on the family and although they can be hard to get started, if you persevere and hold them regularly, you can build a great sense of co-operation, closeness and a real feeling of being a team.
When you decide to start having a family meeting, pick a time that everyone will be available. Let the children and your partner know that you want to have a family meeting at the appointed time and put a list somewhere handy where each person can list things they want to talk about (put the list on the kitchen table, fridge door or somewhere else that is accessible to all). Encourage the children to write up topics they would like to discuss – remind them that this includes good ideas for fun etc and also anything that they would like to discuss.
It is important to set up how you will run the family meetings. Your aim is to get the children involved as equals and owners of the family meetings, not just as an audience for a lecture from you! Using the guidelines from the Parents Plus Programme, we suggest the following:
- Have the agenda ready – this can be from the list you left out before. For the first few meetings you may need to add to the list if there are not many items listed
- Balance the agenda between fun and serious items to discuss
- Remember no one person has power over the meeting – everyone is an equal participant, this meeting is between a democracy or co-operative group.
- Get everyone involved in tasks according to their age. One person can be the chair person, another can take notes of decisions made, another person can keep track of time and so on. These tasks should be rotated at each meeting so everyone gets a turn at each task.
- Write down decisions that are made. This is very helpful in demonstrating commitment to decisions and also to review action points at the beginning of the next meeting.
- If discussing a problem, try to problem solve together. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t think of a solution immediately, you may try some things and review it at the next meeting.
- Make the meeting a regular get together. Use it to promote time together, have special treat at the end and make if fun too!
Let us know, via our forum or email, how you get on. Your ideas and experiences may be helpful to other parents!