Do you know how to hold a family meeting, or does the thought of this type of gathering cause your head to ache? If you’re in the latter category, then this post is for you. Keep reading because you just might find yourself excited about family meetings after this post.
- First, we’ll dive into what family meetings are.
- Then we’ll examine why families may want to hold them.
- Lastly, we’ll provide you with our quick and easy family meeting template. You can breathe easy because it only has three parts.
But first, let me share our family meeting story!
Our Family Meeting Story
“Honey, I think it’s time to hold a family meeting.” These words are spoken by either my wife or me at least once a month. Family meetings are one of the most powerful parenting tactics I know. Family meetings work because:
- They help everyone feel heard.
- Family meetings get everyone moving in the same direction.
- They affirm that all family members are loved.
- They combine parenting and step-parenting. You and your spouse are no-longer two, but one! And this makes them especially powerful in blended family homes.
“Dad, can we meet like this more often?” When families think of gathering for an organized meeting, most think it means problems to solve. Mostly, this is right. But it’s not the only reason for families to meet. As it turns out, even though family meetings may be hard at times, our kids actually appreciate them—even our teenagers!
Why is this?
Because in our family meetings, stuff gets done, and everyone leaves knowing they are valued. The best way to explain why family meetings are such a powerful tool is simply walking you through our family meeting template.
A Quick and Easy Family Meeting Template:
Phase 1: The Pre-meeting
The pre-meeting is where you and your spouse—the leaders of the home—get on the same page.
The pre-meeting is a time to:
- Respectfully talk about challenges.
- Brainstorm solutions.
- Come to a decision that you can both respect and uphold.
- Anticipate problems that might occur during the family meeting. Then, problem-solve ahead of time.
This is especially powerful in a blended family home because it signals to the kids that the parent and step-parent are working together. For kids, there is a lot of security in this.
Phase 2: The Family Meeting Agenda
In phase 2, the family comes together. Here are some practical meeting tips:
- Begin by clearly stating that you are holding a family meeting.
- Affirm family positives. Start by focusing on strengths. This should include things you’ve caught your kids doing right and other stuff going well in your home. This sets a positive tone.
- Let your family know that you (the parent and step-parent) are leading the meeting. This is a good time to set family meeting ground rules.
- Clarify what the meeting is about. As Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.” So don’t hem-and-haw or beat around the bush. Clearly state the primary topic that needs to be addressed.
- Encourage each family member to ask questions and share feelings.
- Show empathy. If the decision is frustrating or disappointing, acknowledge this.
- Reiterate why you two have come to this decision.
- Conclude by highlighting the positives and reaffirming your love for each member of the home.
Ideally, family meetings will be brief. They should last 15-20 minutes at most. Meetings should also use the sandwich principle.
The Family Meeting Agenda Sandwich Principle
- First, focus on family positives.
- Then, address the tough issues.
- Finish with more positives.
In other words, you scheduling problems, negatives, or difficult conversations between two positive ones. One thing that helped our kids enjoy family meetings was our steady commitment to start and end family meetings on a high note.
[Tweet “In a successful family meeting, all family members feel heard, valued, and loved.”] Not all family members will like the final decision that has been made. Nevertheless, frustrated family members will know they are cared about.
Phase 3: The Family Meeting Debrief
In the debrief, the adults meet in private to examine the next steps. One of the most important ingredients for family and blended family success is for parenting to be done together—as a team!
During the debrief:
- Share how you felt the meeting went.
- Explore strategies for improving future family meetings.
- Decide how the two of you will help your family manage any lingering disappointments, enforce rules, and promote unity in your blended family home.
In other words, the two of you are once again getting back on the same page.
When parenting and step-parenting are done together, other members of the family will quickly get on board. However, if the adults are divided, there is trouble ahead. In Mark 3:25, Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Step-parenting is challenging. However, it can also be rewarding–especially when you and your spouse are working together!
Continue the Conversation
Dive deeper into how to hold a family meeting with the questions for reflection and discussion below:
- What ideas in this post resonated with you?
- Wich of these meeting ideas have you already tried?
- Which new ideas will you put into practice?
- How will you make use of this family meeting template in your home?
- When will you start?
Don’t be divided. Help your family harness the power of teamwork! Have you and your family ever held a family meeting? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Also, feel free to share additional parenting tactics for teaming up with your spouse. We always love hearing from you!