Family meetings can be fun
For a parent, daughter or son
Come one, come all and take a seat
If you do it right, it can be a great treat.

Most of you who have attended business/workplace meetings know how unfruitful and tedious they can be when vital components are missing. On the other hand, successful meetings usually result in higher productivity, resolution of important issues, a more positive attitude among staff, and improved communication.

Everyone has a chance to voice their concernsApplying some of the strategies used in effective meetings to family situations is not a new concept. Some of you, however, may not be familiar with this rather formal, yet user friendly tool, which can be a welcome opportunity in bringing family members together to discuss pertinent issues as well as plan outings, etc. Like a good, basic recipe, the ingredients can be varied to suit your tastes.

Why conduct family meetings? There are many benefits; here are some which may be of interest to you:

1. Family meetings provide a regular, reliable and consistent time for all members of the household to get together.

2. It's a forum for discussion in a non-threatening atmosphere.

3. It provides opportunities for your children to acquire and build valuable skills such as listening, sharing, negotiating and communicating effectively. They learn what makes meetings work and what doesn't — useful information prior to going out into the workplace environment.

4. It's a time when everyone has a chance to voice their concerns and know they will be heard within the context of previously agreed to laws of interaction. These rules provide a sense of security and stability.

5. Communication is a key ingredient in achieving family harmony in any household. Family meetings can provide an ideal occasion to share new information, problem solve together, and work on more positive and rewarding relationships for all concerned.

Effective planning of your family meetings is essential in order to provide a sense of organization and order. Here are some tips for getting there.

Those of you who have already conducted family meetings on a regular basis can use the comment section below to share some of your own strategies and ideas with others.


What is discussed in the group stays in the groupGet everyone involved in setting the code of conduct. Ask family members to write down a few (reasonable) rules which they think should apply to your meetings. If your child is too young to write, he/she can still submit ideas and you can write it down for them.

Use the first meeting to decide, as a group, which rules are the most applicable. Some guidelines are: No profanity, yelling, name-calling or interrupting; all participants must remain respectful at all times and refrain from judging others. Each individual must be allowed to communicate without fear of recrimination or attack.

Privacy issues also need to be addressed; i.e.: What is discussed in the group stays in the group.


The initial gathering is also a good time to discuss goals family members have about the meetings. Clear, honest dialogue concerning expectations will open the door to more open communication later.


Meetings should be held at regular intervals, for example once a month or bi-monthly, and at a consistent time. This helps everyone plan and make appropriate adjustments in their schedules.


Provide incentives for attending family meetings. Have some light refreshments available if you like. If there is time, individual members can assist in preparing these beforehand.

Set aside a few minutes at each meeting for planning activities or outings together. Ask everyone to participate with suggestions which can make each session more enjoyable and rewarding.

Inject a little humor: For example, you can ask everyone to bring a joke, funny story, etc. to share at a specified time during each meeting.

Positive Energy

Encourage family members to let each other know how they are appreciatedMake sure as the parent/group leader that there are some positive aspects to each meeting. Encourage family members to let each other know how they are appreciated, or how performing good deeds for one another has contributed to the wellbeing of the family as a whole. Rewarding positive behavior may be tedious at first, but the behavior "pays off" in other ways and eventually becomes self reinforcing.

Sum It Up

Someone needs to summarize and conclude the meeting. Family members can take turns with this task. However, this assignment requires the individual to listen carefully throughout and then synopsize, making sure to bring up each person's positive contributions. This skill involves practice and may have to be performed and modeled initially by the parent(s).

The termination of each meeting should also include some sense of anticipation and a plan for the next one.

Remember, trial and error is part of the process. Don't sweat the small stuff, keep focusing on the bigger picture and remain optimistic about the outcome. After all, some of the best times in life are truly all about the journey.