October 1, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

Deep down everybody knew that mom needed to leave the family home. She could no longer keep up with all the work but who would convince her to move? On top of that, the family was divided. Some family members wanted to see her stay in the home and hire help for her. Some wanted to move her into an apartment or townhouse. Some wanted to skip the in between steps and move her directly into a senior assisted living center. How would they ever resolve this dilemma especially since emotions on the subject were running so high? This scenario is faced by countless thousands of families every year as the parents of Baby Boomers age. A family meeting could be a great and positive answer.

What is a family meeting?  A family meeting is a gathering of the family of origin (dad, mom, and children) and, sometimes, the extended family (daughters-in law, sons-in-law). Why hold a family meeting? What is the purpose?  The purpose for holding a family meeting is that it helps a family stay connected and "on the same page" especially with decisions like the one above.  That, however, is only one of several reasons for holding a family meeting. Since adult children have typically moved out of the home, communication can become blurred and strained. Good relationships between adult children and parents must be intentionally nurtured.  Family meetings can help to achieve that. 

What would be the benefit of holding a family meeting? The benefits are numerous. It can help to clarify communication between family members and resolve differences. It can provide a good venue to discuss family events (holidays, vacations, birthdays, weddings, etc.). It can also be a time to discuss future possibilities (wills, funerals, geriatric care, moves, job changes, etc.). Finally, in the case of addictions, a family meeting is essential to strategize for a family intervention.                      

Who calls for a family meeting and who leads it? Usually the head of the family, the father, or, mom (if dad is absent), 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.  There may be exceptions to this depending on specific circumstances. A respected, appropriate leader is necessary if dad is absent or unwilling. Lack of clear leadership can be a significant hidden issue. Dad calls the meeting by scheduling a date and time convenient to the majority. He contacts all the family members to cordially invite their presence and participation. The goal is 100% attendance but in some situations that may not be possible. Besides taking the initiative to call for a family meeting, the father leads the family meeting. He serves as the moderator.

What are the ground rules for the meeting? With all assembled, the leader establishes the ground rules for the family meeting including: the time limits of the meeting-what are the boundaries for the meeting, how long will it last? Each family member should speak for himself. For the meeting to stay focused we will stick to the issue at hand.  When speaking to a family member we will agree to speak the truth in love. We are not enemies (the devil is our enemy not other family members). This means we will avoid name-calling. The leader must be impartial showing no favoritism; everyone will get their turn to speak.  The leader will summarize any action which we agree to take. The leader pauses the meeting for periodic breaks as well as opens and closes the meeting in prayer. During the meeting, the leader strives to separate problem discussion from problem solution. He puts together a clear agenda. Finally, there are times when arbitration (by a neutral person) or family counseling is needed.

Sound like something which could benefit your family? If so, contact us at Hopewell Counseling (612-499-3744). We can give you additional do’s and don’ts for conducting a family meeting and, if desired, we can lead it for you.

Jesus died that we might be in His family,