If weekly meetings are too much, then set aside time to meet every two weeks. As a result of your sustained efforts, you will build a family in which problems are discussed, each person feels heard, and adventures are planned because you made family meetings a high priority.
In my family, I insisted on family meetings even though my daughter often resisted and my husband wasn’t focused on them. Since we followed Michael Popkin’s guideline of giving allowance at the end of the family meeting, my daughter always attended. This incentive, which didn’t involve nagging her, worked well because we didn’t connect her allowance to her behavior. Rather, we used allowance for teaching money management, which was one of the skills we would talk about during our family meetings. Keeping your children engaged in the family meeting process is important. Make sure to discuss pleasant topics along with unpleasant topics so that having a family meeting isn’t simply another name for your children being in trouble.
As a result of nine years of family meetings, I have a treasure trove of handwritten meeting notes that serve as a memoir of our family life. During our meetings, we covered topics such as chores, vacations, time management, TV viewing, school, sports, dance classes, pet care, family purchases, cell phones, boys, party rules, friends, use of allowance, and finally, my daughter getting a restaurant hostess job at age 15. When you insist on family meetings despite the many obstacles life throws your way, you create a family that values and treasures one another.
These roles rotate at each meeting depending on your child’s maturity level. Keep in mind that, hopefully, you will continue your family meetings for years to come, so if your child isn’t ready for a leadership role yet, they will be in the future as they continue to learn from you.
However, keep the family meeting as a time when everyone practices not blocking communication and listening without judgment. That way, each person feels safe and shares. After sharing, teach your children how to disagree without demeaning each other. With gentle reminders, the ability to be open-minded and respectful will grow. Most of all, enjoy the special time you have carved out of your busy schedules to be together as a family.
Based on “How to Hold a Family Council Meeting” from Active Parenting 4th Edition by Michael Popkin. Copyright © Active Parenting Publishers, 2014. Used with permission of the publisher.
©2017 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She works with parents of 5 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at www.bridges2understanding.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!