Rules of order for a family meeting

Weekly family meetings are a great way to keep the family's schedule organized, to catch up on the events of the week past, and to hash out any scheduling conflicts in the week ahead.

It's also a good time to go over vacation plans, major homework projects, and anything else that will impact the family.

All this in 30 minutes a week! Choose somewhere comfortable to have your family meetings. The kitchen table is ideal. 

preparing for a successful family meeting.

  • Have an agenda so you stay on topic and don't forget anything. Post a piece of paper on the fridge the day of the meeting and let the kids sign up topics they want to discuss.
  • Appoint roles: You'll need a moderator. If the kids are old enough, take turns. Bobby can do it this week. Sarah can do it next week. They'll learn valuable leadership skills in the comfort of their own home. You'll also need a secretary to take notes so you can check back and see what you've agreed on later. You could even have "specialists" or "committee chairs" who are in charge of certain areas, such as researching a new pet or the fund-raising campaign to fund a ski trip.
  • Have a token object to denote who has the floor. It could be a teddy bear. It could be a hat. Whatever. But when you've got the bunny rabbit, you've got the floor. That way there's no misunderstandings about whose turn it is to talk.
  • Vote when appropriate. Some matters are adult decisions. Say that.
  • End on a good note. At the end of the meeting, the secretary should summarize the major points so it's clear what was decided. Then have dessert and play a game. This will make meetings a lot more fun to look forward to.

the weekly family meeting agenda.

Topics will vary from week to week, but there are some that will keep coming up. Discuss one topic at a time so that you stay focused.

Go around the table and give everyone a chance to talk. (Some kids may need timers.)

  • Scheduling: One by one, everyone will go through all his commitments for the week. Band. Soccer practice. Doctor's appointments. Field trips. Golf games. Big school projects. Recitals. Write these on a large family calendar. Now that all activities are written down, you can see and resolve any conflicts. When you figure out the week in advance, you not only are helping the family get through the week, but you are teaching your children time management skills they will use throughout life.
  • Chores: If your family switches off chores weekly, this is a good time to do it. This is also a good time to discuss what chores need to be added or done better.
  • Problems: These should be family problems, not personal. This is not a good time to berate Eric about his grades. Do that privately. When someone presents a problem, everyone brainstorms a solution. Show the kids how to set short-term attainable goals. Report back on the progress the next week.
  • Fun stuff: Have everyone tell one good thing that happened to them the last week. Praise each child. Announce awards and honors.
  • Plan ahead: Plan vacations and school holidays and even the next weekend's activities.

set ground rules for a successful family meeting.

Make your rules, write them down, and stick to them.

  • Meetings are mandatory. No TV. No texting. No phone calls.
  • Be respectful. No interrupting, shouting, or belittling remarks.
  • Remember to criticize the behavior, not the person. Don't say "Christy is so messy I can't stand it!" Say, "I really don't like the way Christy leaves her homework spread out all over the counter."

We also like to hold a special meeting at the beginning of each year to discuss family and personal goals for the coming year. We look at the year that just ended and talk about what was good and what was bad and how we could have made it better.

Then we plan the big events for the coming year and begin talking about where we'd like to go for vacation and start discussing how to save the money for that.

› Family Meeting Tips for Success


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