Team Fluker was established in October of 2000. Nearly 21 years later, we’re still going strong. Our family consists of my husband and me and our two teenaged children. Our oldest child is actually in his last quarter of being a teen (Yikes!) and our baby is just 23 months behind him! You can read my blog post for the Birmingham Mom Collective to see how I feel about them being (almost) all grown up. We consider ourselves a very close-knit family. (You can read my blog post about establishing closeness within your family here.) One of the things that we attribute our closeness to is our ability to communicate with each other. We do that through family meetings.
You can blame The Cosby Show for our Fluker Family meetings. I knew from the time I saw the Huxtables having family meetings that I wanted to one day replicate that for my family when I grew up. And, that’s just what I did! Family meetings can be used for various purposes, from talking about major issues to just having a time for your family members to reconnect. I’m going to share how we structure our family meetings.
Families that have never taken the time to have regular family meetings may balk at the idea. In fact, if you asked my husband if we have family meetings, he’d probably say no. That’s because I don’t use that particular phrase for our gatherings simply because the term, family meetings, can sometimes be offputting. Families may shy away from having family meetings because they may feel that they don’t have time for such meetings. On the other hand, some families may feel that there’s no need for such meetings because parents should make all of the important decisions. Every family is different, and ultimately everyone needs to do what’s best for their family.
Family meetings can be so much more than just important decision making time. When you take the time to talk things over with your family, you will all feel better connected, and you will soon find that cooperation within the family will soar. Here is a look at how to conduct a family meeting, what to talk about, and what you will accomplish.
Starting a Family Meeting
The most important aspects of a family meeting are making sure that you start when your children are young and having the meetings regularly. When your children are old enough to sit still, listen, and communicate ideas, they are ready for family meetings.
You want to make sure that you have your family meetings regularly. Some families prefer to sit down once a week for a short prayer and time to catch up with each other. Others prefer to have a longer family meeting once a month. Whichever you decide, make it a regular event and put the date on the calendar.
Because kids are kids, you will want to do some things to make sure that your kids are interested in sitting through the meeting. You might want to have it right after mealtime, possibly while you’re serving a special dessert. You could also do it at dinner time and serve pizza or another favorite meal. Another good idea is to make sure that this time is used to allow your children to participate and communicate their feelings. This should not be a time for mom or dad to nag or scold the children.
Set Your Agenda
Once you have a regular time set up for your family meeting, consider what you will discuss. Many Christian families will use this time to pray together and to pray for others. Use this time to think of situations outside your own family that need prayers.
Your family meeting agenda could also include how to plan time together as a family, such as where to go over the weekend or what to do on vacation, how to resolve conflicts with siblings or others in the family, and ideas and suggestions about family matters, chores, and routines. When you decide on the agenda, make sure that you do not overburden the family or have too many items listed. Young children will get bored with that. Have two or three ideas of what needs discussing and try to keep the discussions short and to the point.
If you don’t have a specific family issue that needs to be discussed, you can choose a generic topic to explore during your meeting to keep you in the routine of having open discussions. Here are some possible meeting topics:
- What does it mean to be helpful?
- What makes you unique?
- What does it mean to be responsible?
- What are your goals for the future?
- List three things that you are thankful for.
Listen to All Family Members
During a family meeting, it is also very important to make sure that every member of your family has a chance to talk. One way to make sure that everyone gets a chance to talk is to pass a toy around the table. The person holding the toy becomes the designated speaker. Make sure that the speaker gets undivided attention and that no one, including parents, interrupts. Once children get older and the routine of the family meetings has been established, you can transition to other methods to make sure that everyone participates in the meeting.
The idea behind the family meeting is to make sure that important family issues are discussed. It’s also an opportunity for families to learn to communicate with one another openly. Some family members may resent sitting through meetings, while others may really enjoy the opportunity each meeting brings. You need to take this time to reconnect as a family. It can be so valuable and can have wonderful results.