EQUIP – Family Meetings
Why There’s No Better Time Than Right Now to Weave This Into Your New Routine
It’s safe to say that things look and feel quite different than they did just a week or so ago. We are all in the midst of adjusting to a new normal in some way, shape, or form right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of all of the uncertainty and chaos, it’s not uncommon that many people are experiencing high stress, anxiety, worry, and fear. So how can we come together to strengthen our family and better equip our homes in this season?
It’s been on our hearts share something that’s made such a positive impact on our own family—Family Meetings. And we believe there’s no better time than right now to begin weaving them into your family’s routine.
Family meetings are opportunities, not just for you as parents, but also for your kids to discuss important issues. Communication is strengthened and these meetings will reinforce your family’s values and help to foster more positive relationships within your home. As a parent, you may initially feel reluctant, or even hesitant, to the idea of organizing family meetings, but we want to encourage you to push through and discover more about their purpose and how they can bring so many benefits to homes and families.
We felt a bit hesitant at first and it seemed a tad bit silly in the beginning to actually have a formalized meeting as a family, especially with younger kids. But, by doing so, we’ve personally watched our family become more unified and bring a deeper peace and purpose in our home.
Initially, you might expect that your kids may even fear the concept of a family meeting by thinking it’s just a way for you as their parents to enforce rules or place restrictions on them. But when parents start realizing the benefits of family meetings and learn how to develop an effective family meeting agenda that incorporates fun, encouragement, family bonding, and problem solving, you’ll be in a better position to explain the value and purpose of family meetings to your kids.
There are so many benefits to family meetings and here are just a few.
Benefits of Family Meetings
- Family meetings strengthen and foster relationships within your home.
- Family meetings provide regular opportunities for you and your kids to live out your family values, practice communication skills, overcome challenges, problem-solve, set and achieve goals, have fun, inspire one another, and appreciate and understand each other better.
- Holding family meetings is an intentional way to help raise genuinely successful kids to develop internal abilities and problem solving skills that help them navigate through life and make wiser decisions.
Introducing Family Meetings to Your Children
At first, we don’t want you to be discouraged if the idea of family meetings is intimidating to your children, especially teens. One reason for this is that your children don’t know what to expect. They are likely unfamiliar with ways families meet more formally to plan, organize, problem-solve, and make decisions.
Family meetings work best with children from about four years old onward. If you’ve never had a family meeting, start by simply taking a few minutes to introduce the concept to your children before you dive right in. We found that the best time to do this is when you have their full attention, either over dinner or at another time when you’ve asked them to gather.
You might start by saying that you’ve recently learned how weekly meetings can benefit families by helping them communicate and solve problems together as a team. Meeting time is an opportunity to have fun, plan trips, organize family outings, service projects, and appreciate each other.
It’s truly an opportunity for your children to feel SEEN, HEARD, and UNDERSTOOD.
We highly recommend that you propose a regular, weekly meeting time. We personally have our family meetings every Sunday evening, which is a great start to a new week. We have found it is best to keep it informal, relaxed and fun in some manner.
Developing a Family Meeting Agenda
To keep it simple, we recommend posting a sheet of paper on the refrigerator or bulletin board where family members can jot down agenda items, like issues to be problem-solved together or who will plan a fun activity. Consider the following agenda topics, which can be shortened or lengthened as you see fit for your family.. Family meetings shouldn’t go on for more than an hour (not including a fun activity at the end) —less if your children are very young.
- Kick off
Create a short ritual to kick off your family meetings. For example, we open up with prayer. You could also open up with a song, having a favorite family snack together, candle-lighting, etc. The point is to kick it off with something that helps transition the family into meeting time.
Take a few minutes for each family member to share one thing they are grateful for. Our favorite gratitude activity to do is sharing one thing each family member is for another family member who is in the room. This is a great opportunity for the parent to ‘speak life’ into something that you are grateful for in your spouse and each child. This could be something general, like expressing gratitude for some aspect of their life. For example, they may share that they are grateful for how well they did on a school assignment or an opportunity they had to play outdoors that day.
- Review the Family Values
Family meetings are an opportunity to discuss and practice living out family values. If your family has not yet established your family values, now is a great time to establish those. This link (https://personalportrait.weebly.com) will ask questions to walk you through an exercise you could do as a family to establish your family values. What other values are important to your family? Writing down your family values, reviewing them regularly, and sharing HOW your family is living out one of the values will encourage your family to live them out. And over time, your family’s values will become part of your family’s culture.
- Devote 15-20 minutes to learning together to ultimately grow as a family.
We have a few ideas to share below:
1) Doing a family devotion together
2) Discussing a current event
3) Selecting a topic to discuss together like the pros and cons of technology, money management, budgeting, nutrition, exercise, community service, or any other topic that may be of interest to you or your family
4) Ask the family what goals or things they want to grow in individually.
- Week in Review
Include “review and retrospective” into family meetings that includes questions like these:
- What worked well in our family this week?
- What went wrong in our family this week?
- What will we work on in our family this coming week?
- How did we live out our family’s core values this week?
The key point to this section is to focus on how you are doing as a family. This is NOT a time to focus on the negatives. Think of it more like a time for realignment- where you are intentionally creating space as a family to realign your time, minds and family towards what matters most.
Dedicate this time to resolving problems or issues that individual family members have placed on the agenda. It is best to try to solve only one problem a week. If more than one issue has been placed on the agenda, find a fair way to address each one week by week. Ask each person to state his/her perspective about the problem, without judgment. Ask each person to suggest solutions. Which solutions are the most feasible? Determine this together.
- Weekly Planning
What is your family planning together? Trips, concerts, sports events? What chores need to be completed next week? This is a time to fairly assign tasks to each family member, sync calendars, and set goals for the future.
- Fun Activity
This might include playing a game, watching a movie, or making pizza together. Consider rotating the responsibility for planning the fun activity each week among family members.
We are excited to see the benefits that will come from your intentional time together as a family. Check out these resources below to help you start family meetings in your home.
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