Running a Family Meeting, Part II
In Part I of this series, we introduced the idea of family meetings by describing just a few of the many benefits they produce in the life of a family. From stronger connections to fostering a collective growth mindset, meeting weekly as a family is a very powerful tool!
We've already outlined what the first half of a family meeting entails. Now, we'll take a look at the second half, including deeper problem solving strategies and ideas for ending each meeting on a positive note:
As each family member reflects on his or her previous week's goal, take time to note whether or not progress was made. If there was some movement forward, that person should either continue his or her goal into the following week or come up with a new goal to work on. If no progress was made, it's time to discuss what needs to happen in order to help that person make progress in the coming week.
Deeper Problem Solving
In each meeting, one problem, whether it’s from an individual family member’s focus area or something that affects the whole family, should be put on the table for full problem solving. Some example problems: “The dog poop is not getting picked up in the yard often enough,” or “Ben and Alexa are fighting over the iPad,” or "Dad's not eating the healthy foods he knows he should." Once the problem is chosen, try following these steps to begin solving it:
- Write the problem out on a page of the notebook. This ensures that it's been specifically defined.
- Talk as a family about why it's a problem. Jot those reasons down under the problem in the notebook.
- Take suggestions from all family members about what might help solve this problem. At this point, all suggestions are written down without judgment. Try to generate a LOT of possibilities here!
Next, it's time to take action:
Veto. The adult(s) running the meeting must next veto any solutions that simply won’t work. This should be done kindly but firmly. If Ben suggests, “we’ll just wait for the snow to cover the dog poop,” (clearly not an option) it must be vetoed. It’s important not to leave “wrong answers” on the solutions list so they don't become options in the steps that follow.
Choose a solution. From the remaining options, one solution should be selected. Ideally, the person who is having the problem will select the solution. If it’s an all-family problem, try to let the kids choose as often as possible. Once the choice has been made, jot it down and begin implementing the plan of action!
Be ready for failure. Remember, choosing a solution doesn’t mean it’s going to work; it means it will be tried. Know that you’ll be reviewing the solution next week in the next family meeting. Be ready to see things not get “fixed” right away and hold off on judging or changing the plan until you reach your family's next meeting.
Before the meeting is finished, you get to wrap up with the very best part! This last phase is a great time to talk about upcoming family events, activities you’d like to plan together, or steps that need to be taken to bring your family’s plans to life. A few examples might include:
- Brainstorming a list of activities, snacks, etc. to be packed for an upcoming road trip
- Planning healthy snacks for the week, then deciding which night to go out for an ice cream treat
- Making a list of upcoming extended family birthdays and planning gifts for each one
This planning phase is a fun way to bring the family meeting to a close. It serves as a reminder that families aren't simply for supporting each other and helping each other solve problems... they're also for enjoying!
The family meeting is a powerful tool that's been known to bring families closer together and cultivate a healthier home environment. Ready to get started? Find a journal or print out the page below, put it on the calendar, and prepare to see amazing things happen!