Not all families are ready for family meetings. Family meetings work when a family is ready to problem solve together. If this is not the case, then family therapy is the best place to start to lead into more self-directed collaboration.
When considering if your family is ready for family meetings some things to consider are:
- Are the members committed and able to problem solve together, without violence or shouting?
- Is there a relatively equal balance of power between the two parents (in two-parent families)?
- Is there a willingness and ability to listen to one another and disagree?
- Does everyone feel safe to express themselves in the family?
- Are the parents in the family able to show love to their children and also set firm boundaries?
Adapted from (Fetsch & Jacobson).
If the answers to these are yes, then your family might be ready to try out some family meetings. When the topic is appropriate, children as young as 2 or 3 can be at family meetings. It is important that everyone at the meeting speaks at some point and is heard.
Family meetings have the potential to be a wonderful tool to facilitate bonding and deeper connection, after all, the aim is to improve understanding and communication, to support one another in getting everyone’s needs met.
We held our first family meeting when my children were around 5 and 6. They were incredibly excited and decided we needed an agenda (which they created, and we added to). They raised important issues for them around screen time and we were able to raise important issues for us around distribution of tasks in the house. We managed to come to a resolution which felt like win / win for all of us.
I think we only made it through 3 agenda items before the kids got distracted, but it was a wonderfully empowering experience for all of us. They called the next family meeting a few weeks later, obviously enjoying the new collaborative and problem-solving space.
Have you experienced a successful family meeting? If you have, I’d love to hear about it in the comments
Have a fabulous day,
Reference: Fetsch, R. J. & Jacobson, B.