Family meetings can be a great way to get issues resolved and plans made, but there should be some ground rules in place no matter what is on the agenda so that the meetings are productive. Here are a few to get you started.
Yes, there is going to be complaining, even if you are discussing where to go on your next vacation. As the parent, it is up to you to limit the amount of time this is allowed to go on. Everyone should be heard, but when the complaining drags out or turns into blaming, it’s time to put a stop to it.
Kindly, yet firmly, bring the conversation back to finding a solution instead of rehashing the problem. You all know what the problem is at this point. One of the reasons we adults hate meetings at work is because they drag out and nothing gets settled. Don’t let that happen when you are in charge.
Parents Have the Final Vote
It should always be understood that although everyone gets a voice, the adults have the final say. This is necessary for many reasons. If all the kids want to go to Europe on vacation, but the budget won’t allow it, you do the kids a disservice by taking out a loan just because that’s what they really want to do.
Giving them boundaries of what they can choose from is one way you can deal with a lot of situations. You and your partner might want to come up with some alternatives or choices before the meeting so there are some guidelines in place. This will help spare you from some of the most outlandish suggestions.
Include Fun Stuff
Planning the family vacation was mentioned earlier, and that is a great use of a family meeting. But many people tend to call family meetings only when there is an issue that needs to be resolved or chores that need to be divided up.
Obviously, if the only time you call one is when someone is in trouble or members are going to be told they have to do stuff they don’t want to do, your meetings are going to be met with a lot of resistance. So, make sure to also have them to make fun plans or discuss holiday events and the like.
You want your meetings to feel more like collaboration rather than delegation. Otherwise, you might as well skip the trouble of meeting and just delegate directly or in individual, private conversations instead.
Let Everyone Have a Say
Every member of the family should be allowed to throw ideas and suggestions into the ring. Even though the adults will have the final say, letting everyone have their say in the matter will let them know that their opinion counts just as much as everyone else’s. This can also lead to getting to know your family’s interests better to strengthen your relationships with each other overall.