Why Family Meetings?
I suggest family meetings to many of my clients, and for several different reasons. In families affected by neuro-developmental challenges, the parent/child “guiding relationship” is often negatively impacted. Regular family meetings can have a significant impact on children’s view of parents the “co-captains” of family ship.
The word “meeting” can sound formal and dry – this needn’t be the case! You may be surprised how much fun you can have with a little forethought and preparation. Remember to: Identify your goals – what is your intended outcome?
Family meetings can be held for many reasons. Here just a few possible goals:
- Build a sense of cohesion and belonging
- Talk about the upcoming week, discuss logistics
- Announce upcoming shifts in the family routine
- Reinforce family values
- A forum for discussing challenges
- Celebrate your child’s accomplishments
- Brainstorm or problem solve as a group
- “Course correct” when your family ship is off track
- Discuss family rules and responsibilities
The most important aspect of family meetings is setting the right tone.
How to structure your family meeting
I suggest to my clients that they should begin and end on a positive note. Even if you have touchy subject matter to discuss, always let your children know how much they are loved, and that you are proud of them.
Here are some other things to consider when preparing for your first meeting:
Heads up! – let your children know in advance when your meeting will be held, and be sure that they aren’t being dragged away from a preferred activity without fair warning.
Stay on track – have a plan or agenda to guide your discussion.
Make it enjoyable – in order to lighten the mood, serve something like popcorn or another family treat.
Choose your Timing – It’s ideal to hold your first family meeting when the family ship is sailing on smooth waters. This will allow you to take a more proactive approach, rather than holding a meeting to “react” to something that has already taken place.
Set limits – allow your kids to participate fully, but be prepared to set limits and re-direct the conversation back on track if necessary.
Establish Ground Rules – establish and communicate ground rules for your meeting. For example, you might consider using a “talking stick” to prevent interruptions.
Frequency – ideally, meet on a regular basis. The more regularly you meet, the more casual and productive your meetings will become.
Duration – Limit your meetings to a reasonable time frame, and adhere to your start and end times. This will will send a message that you’re organized, and respect your children’s time.
Eliminate Distractions – ignore phone calls, and put all electronics away – your family is your priority during this time!
Don’t Get Hooked – while you want to give your children an opportunity to contribute ideas, their input should be sought on appropriate topics.
Participation is Mandatory – all family members must participate!
What about Timing? – weekends are ideal for family meetings. Typically, family members are more relaxed on weekends, and both parents and children are more “mentally available” when homework and lessons aren’t top of mind.
Organizing and implementing your first family meeting may feel a bit like “pulling teeth!” Don’t despair. Once you get into a rhythm, both you and your kids will look forward to your time together. Before you know it you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labour!
Would you benefit from skilled and compassionate support to make your home a more peaceful place? Consider The Family Coaching Program; Short Term Coaching with lasting results! Contact me for a complementary consultation.
“Sue’s Family Coaching Program has been the answer to what we were looking for. In a very short time, with Sue’s guidance, experience and knowledge we have become more connected to our son. The challenges we faced at home have decreased considerably.”
~ Kim and Tom, Pickering, ON
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