How to hold a family meeting

How to Hold a Family Meeting: A Quick and Easy Family Meeting Template

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:

  1. Respectfully talk about challenges.
  2. Brainstorm solutions.
  3. Come to a decision that you can both respect and uphold.
  4. 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. 

Parenting wins!

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!

 

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

5 thoughts on “How to Hold a Family Meeting: A Quick and Easy Family Meeting Template”

  1. Yes, setting expectations is key.

    I’d like to pose a perhaps unlikely addition. What if family meetings were not held only when mounting negative behavior needs correcting? What if they were just held on a predictable schedule, whether there was any particular trouble or not? As well-planned and well-run as a family meeting “for correction” might be, I think the participants would still be able to predict that the words “We need to have a family meeting” mean something is wrong. But what if family meetings were just about being that time of month (or whatever time frame) that we have our family meeting?

    This might allow a few wonderful possibilities, and still use the great strategies from the post. One thing it would allow is the ability to say, “Everything’s GREAT! Good job, everyone!” and to get to just talk about all the positives, with not a correction in sight. Another thing that would happen is that “family meeting” would not be associated with “something’s wrong.” It would just be a regular time in the family culture, and maybe even something to look forward to. It also seems that if some family meetings turn out to be purely celebrations of the positive with no negatives, that might be a silent incentive between meetings to shoot for that kind of meeting each time.

    1. Erik, I love this. Family meetings on a regular basis are, without a doubt, ideal. And our family needs to get more intentional about using them in ways other than addressing big changes, and problems. Right now, our tendency is to meet often as a family to celebrate and talk about the good stuff that is going on. However, the more formal family meetings, are usually reserved for serious conversations. I like your idea of having regularly scheduled meetings and focusing only on the good stuff, when nothing else needs to be to addressed. We’ll have to try this out 🙂

  2. Jed, Love your ideas here. At what age do you think it is appropriate to start having family meetings?

    Another complex issue among blended families that I have experienced over time is the influence of extended families during visits that last for extended periods. How would you bring in the Grandparents? How much influence should they have?

    Even if it isn’t for a visit. More adult children and parents are living together since the end of the Great Depression for many reasons not just because of finances.

    1. Thanks Kirby,

      Great question. Our daughter Brooklyn, began participating in family meetings when she was three. My wife and I found that for some meetings, bedtime is an ideal setting. The girls love our family gathering together in their room to talk. Then we finish with bedtime prayers and goodnight hugs. I’ve found that young children are often easily engaged in conversation around bedtime.

      Good question about grandparents too. We haven’t brought the grandparents into the family meetings yet, but I could see how this could be helpful. Especially if they are living in the home. Yes, many blended families consist of grandparents too, and for lots of reasons. As far as the decision to bring them in goes, I think the husband and wife team should decide together. My wife, Jenny, keeps pointing out how when the husband and wife team are working together, the family flows smoothly–I got lucky and married a gorgeous woman with a lot of wisdom 🙂

      Thanks for the great questions and I’d love to hear how family meetings work for you.

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