This month I’m writing about the family meeting, one of the best ways to keep the family, especially the clan (family of families), connected. Let me start with the definition. What is a family meeting and who should attend? A family meeting is a gathering of the family of origin (dad, mom, and children) and, on occasion, of the extended family (daughters-in law, sons-in-law). It is a leadership meeting where decisions will be made so young children and grandchildren are not included.
Why hold a family meeting? What is the purpose and what are the benefits? A family meeting helps to keep a family connected and "on the same page." In clans (family of families) the adult children have typically moved out of the home and communication can become blurred and strained. Good relationships between adult children and parents must be intentionally nurtured. Family meetings can help to achieve that. Here are some of the benefits:
1. Clarify communication between family members
2. Resolve differences between family members
3. Discuss family events (holidays, vacations, birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.)
4. Discuss future possibilities (wills, funerals, geriatric care, moves, job changes, etc.)
5. Strategize family intervention (addictions)
Who calls for a family meeting and who leads it? Usually the head of the family, the father, or, if a single parent, the mother, calls for the meeting, however, any family member may ask the father to call one if circumstances warrant it. Family members always defer to father in taking the initiative to call a family meeting. The father leads the family meeting. He serves as the moderator. He calls the meeting by scheduling a date/time convenient to the majority. He contacts all the family members to cordially invite their presence and participation
What are the ground rules for the meeting? With all assembled, the leader establishes the ground rules for the family meeting including: a) time limits of the meeting, b) speaking for oneself, c) sticking to the issue at hand, d) speaking the truth in love, e) avoiding name-calling, f) impartiality--no favoritism, everyone will get their turn to speak, g) summarizing any action which will be taken. The leader opens the meeting in prayer. He calls for periodic breaks during the meeting. He closes the meeting in prayer.
When used correctly, the family meeting is a wonderful strategy for keeping the family connected, resolving conflict and misunderstandings between family members, and future planning. It is especially important as young adults leave home, marry, and establish families of their own.
Relationships matter to God,