Family Meetings

rd22Mar 12, 2015 – The Family Meeting is the best tool for communication and problem-solving in the family.  Regularly scheduled meetings where all members of the family can come together to talk about problems and opportunities help to strengthen family bonds.

lnstead of trying to solve problems in the moment, when you are angry, tired or frustrated, solve problems with the resources of the whole family at your disposal.  If you take the time to ask those people with whom you share your life if they have any ideas about how to solve a problem, you will be astounded at their creativity and willingness to help.

It takes time and commitment and good communication.  But the results are well worth the effort. Not only will your family have a place and time to come together to share the joys and challenges of family life, both children and adults will learn invaluable life skills.

By taking the time to solve problems together, you will raise children who are able to find solutions instead of avoiding consequences, children who are able to accept responsibility for their own behavior and who are willing to listen to the needs of their family members.

A family that takes time out of a busy schedule to carefully listen to each family member, builds a lasting foundation for the future; a legacy of love and understanding that will survive and thrive long into the next generation.


1. Gain willingness from everyone in the family (over the age of five) to try family meetings for three months.

2. Schedule a time each week where everyone in the family can meet to talk over issues, values, goals, work and play in the family.

5. Educate all family members regarding the need to use consensus to make decisions.  All family members participate as equals.

4. Model problem-solving and communication skills such as I-messages, reflective listening, neutral language, normalizing. Focus on the problem not the person.

5. Makes sure the meeting provides an equal amount of problem-solving and fun-planning. Start with a round of compliments and end with allowance and dessert.

6. If the meetings start to become gripe sessions, remind the family that the goal is communication and problem-solving, not blaming and shaming.

7. Taken notes each meeting in a bound notebook.  Record agenda, issues, brainstorming, agreements and next steps. Read notes from the previous meeting right after compliments.

8. Tackle only one or two family issues (chores, arguments, etc.), as well as one or two fun items when you are first getting started.

9. Plan for a certain amount of time each week and stick to it. Too little and wanting more is better than too much and resistant.

10. Be sure to express positive feelings about each other. Say thank you for the little things. Listen carefully to all family members and emphasize fairness. Encourage each other and build a strong family!




1. Skipping meetings.  It is better to change the time or day than to miss a week.  Try to be consistent.

2. Allowing one person to monopolize the meeting.  Suggest that each person take turns talking.  Go around the table and set a time limit.  Try to empower all family members.

3. Acting like parents and being in charge.  Most parents are afraid that their children will hold them hostage if they make decisions by consensus.  Not true.  Children are more reasonable than we can imagine!

4. Focusing on the negative.  Even though it is hard to pass up the chance to complain, don’t complain.  If you must, use I-messages. (“I have a problem with this” is better than “you’re doing that”.)

5. Bickering and bashing.  Stick to the, issues instead of pointing fingers.  Keep asking “how are we going to solve this problem”.

6. Letting the meeting go on and on.  You don’t have to finish everything.  If something can’t be solved or the agenda’s too long, push it to the next meeting.

7. Not following through on agreements. Make sure there’s a plan for getting things done. Review progress at the next meeting.