“Family meeting!” was something I could be heard hollering often, calling all eight of my kids to our huge family dinner table. It was always an effective way to get everyone into one room, but over the years I perfected the art of the family meeting so that it became effective in all the other ways I wanted (and needed) it to be, too.
So now I’d like to have a family meeting with you! I’d like to share with you the art of the family meeting. Welcome to my dinner table.
LENGTH OF TIME: The length of time a family meeting should last depends on the ages and learning styles of the family members. For instance, a six year old with an auditory learning style would be blessed by five minutes for her/him, and five for the adult. Assuming two adults and two similarly aged and styled children the meeting lasts twenty minutes. Children with visual learning styles might do better to have the meeting be more opportunistic in nature taking advantage of a moment or environment (look at that playground we went there twice last year) however, to make it routine one could use pictures etc. for their visual learner.
FREQUENCY: The frequency of the family meeting is best when it falls on a weekly or biweekly basis, since then it becomes part of the family style rather than a high-pressure period of time wherein the child and parent feel like they must have great answers and questions.
If the meeting is happening quite frequently it can be used to organize chores, sooth sibling rivalry and explain parental choices. But it must be mostly used to gather intel on the lives of each other; to show an interest and share personal (funny, challenging, sad, happy) stories. These can be done in a game format wherein a card is pulled from a hat and the instruction on what to share is followed.
THE PURPOSE: This meeting should help bond and inform. The importance of explaining where you and the other family members are at, and what has happened over the past year, lies in the shaping of a brain and a personal understanding of the future. Future sight is one of the things we are always shaping in our children. Their young brains are fanciful in nature and don’t logically sequence possible futures. To help their brains grow strong logic centers, we as parents must help with that process. Too many families share doom and gloom and create dysfunctional brain development.
The family meeting also enlightens each member on the reasoning of the others. This helps brain and emotional development by creating clarity and affection rather than self-centered confusion and separateness. Finally, slave mentality comes from being taught to blindly follow authority. The family meeting (done well) is preventative from this sort of control method.
THE CONCLUSION: I encourage you to have family meetings but be sure to take the steps necessary to make them effective and successful. Yes, sometimes they will be intense and even uncomfortable. So make sure they are often fun, too.
Like this family meeting we just had.