Many people cringe when they hear the phrase “family meeting.” Family meetings are often looked at as a setting for blaming and confronting other family members.

In reality, regular meetings are a great way to plan fun activities, problem solve, build cooperation,  and open communication between parents and children. Holding family meetings can be successful no matter what the ages of your children or the size of your family.

What can you do at a family meeting? Having an agenda (a list of topics) will help keep everyone focused. Start meetings with positive topics. Allowing your children to share good things that have happened, planning a family activity such as a game or movie night, or even telling a fun joke or two will help create a positive atmosphere.

Other discussion ideas for family meetings could include: allowance, curfews, chore assignments, video game or computer use, or sibling conflicts. Remember, these are only suggestions! Once your meetings get started, you will no doubt begin to think of many of your own ideas!

Whatever your topic, make sure you allow everyone to add ideas or opinions. However, all final decisions regarding house rules or policies should be made by the parent or guardian.

Try to hold the family meetings on the same day each week. Mark the meeting dates on a calendar so your children have a visual reminder. If you are unable to find a time or day that works for     everyone, family mealtime can be a good time for a meeting.

The length of your meetings depends on the age of your children. Younger children usually enjoy sharing a snack or playing a game with parents for a short period of time, typically about 5 minutes. Fifteen to 20 minutes is a good start for families with older children. Some meetings may take less or more time depending on the topics covered.

While teens may be more reluctant at first, continue to encourage them and let them know how important the meetings are to you and your family. Once they become more comfortable and realize they will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions, they will become more willing to participate in family meetings. 

Don’t expect your first meetings to always go smoothly or without conflict! Keep in mind that you are just getting started. By holding meetings on a regular weekly basis you will become more comfortable, confident, and creative!