“A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.”
June is National Rebuild Your Life Month.
One common stress point that I often hear about with my clients is that they want to spend more quality and drama-free time with their families. Over-committed schedules and daily stress seem to present the biggest obstacle. The Family Meeting provides an opportunity for regular household communication, regardless of what the family looks like. This works well for roommates and couples without kids, too.
Although I am focusing on the family here, this same model can be used in a classroom (Class Meetings) or business setting (Team Meetings) by reworking the agenda accordingly.
Begin by determining the frequency of your family/class/team meetings. I suggest once a week, and if that is not possible, at least every other week. The meeting can be on the same day of the week or can be more flexible, as long as it is scheduled for a time when everyone can be present. These meetings generally will not happen unless they are scheduled in advance.
Once you commit to holding regular meetings, get clear about the purpose of the meeting and create a consistent agenda to support the desired outcomes. Below are some suggested agenda items for a family meeting:
- APPRECIATION: Start on a positive note. Share appreciations. If someone wants to “pass” they can do so.
- APOLOGIES / FORGIVENESS: Have time for family members to offer apologies and forgiveness if anyone has wronged someone or has been wronged. Then move on and let go of it.
- PLANNING / SCHEDULES: Plan family activities together. Coordinate upcoming schedules. Who is where when? Who needs the car? Who is driving? How can you support each other during particularly stressful times?Avoid hurt feelings and family conflicts by being clear about expectations. There’s some truth to the old adage, “when you know better you do better.” If parents need 24-hour notice for use of the family car, let that be known.
- HOUSEHOLD RESPONSIBILITIES: Divide household chores and responsibilities fairly. Post a chores schedule that states who will do what and by when. Keeping it in writing and accessible to everyone will help avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
- MEAL PLANNING / CLEAN-UP: Who will be home for dinner? When will they be home by? Will you plan to eat as a family some nights and eat “on the go” other nights? If family members want to have input about what’s for dinner, perhaps each person can have a night to do the meal planning and help with preparation. Who will do the dishes? Does everyone pitch in until it's done? Does the cook do the dishes? Does the cook get the night off and everyone else does the dishes? Be clear about who is responsible for what.
- REWARDS: Does your family have something that you collectively want to save money for, such as a new electronic toy, a new car, a vacation, or concert tickets? Involve everyone in doing some family budgeting, so there's buy-in and excitement about sacrificing some things in order to save for something that everyone wants.
Make a commitment today to begin family (or classroom/team) meetings and get everyone on board. Create your own agenda that works to keep you communicating about what’s most important and working together toward common goals.
If you want additional excellent parenting tips, I highly recommend Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelsen. When our daughter was very young, this book became our go-to book as parents. Much of what I learned in this book also helped me manage relationships with co-workers and team members later in life, because the principles of natural and logical consequences are universal for all ages.
Did you like this article, Living in Harmony? What did you learn that you can apply to your own family, classroom, or work team, to encourage better communication? Please comment below.