Family meetings are regularly scheduled times when family members get together to share feelings, discuss concerns, and solve problems. Since all members participate, these meetings help build cooperation and responsibility. Family meetings help members to work together and:
- Make decisions that affect the family as a whole. While some decisions can be made only by the parents, it is important for the child to have a true voice in decisions. Making decisions as a family is a good way to show children that the family is one body with a purpose and a certain way of dealing with life's issues. It also helps children learn social skills and attitudes that they can use as adults.
- Help one member of the family solve a personal problem. This helps children see that other people can suggest options for solving problems that the person may not see by himself or herself.
- Solve family problems. Each member is encouraged to say what he or she thinks and feels. Working within a family, children learn that their opinions can make a difference. Allowing children and teens a voice may help reduce their rebellion and anger toward their parents.
- Plan fun family times. Family meeting times offer a great opportunity to plan family outings and other enjoyable activities. Each member has an equal opportunity to express his or her suggestions for activities.
Schedule frequent family meetings at a consistent time to establish a routine. One person leads the discussions, and another records the meeting and reports back at the next meeting. Parents can assume these roles in the beginning. But other members of the family can take on a role from time to time so that no one person is always in charge.
The following items usually are included on the agenda for a family meeting:
- Read the notes from the previous family meeting.
- Take time for family members to compliment others for things they have done over the past week and to acknowledge members' strengths or good qualities.
- Discuss any business left over from previous meetings.
- Discuss financial matters, if the family has chosen to do so. This may be the time when allowances are handed out.
- Discuss new issues, problems, or concerns. This can be a time for solving personal problems as well as family issues. It usually is helpful for members to add items for discussion on a posted agenda so that all members can see what will be discussed before the meeting begins.
- Make time for an activity. Some families end the meeting and then have a fun time together, such as playing a card game.