How a Family Meeting Can Help Everyone Communicate

How a Family Meeting Can Help Everyone Communicate February 26, 2022

As a therapist, many parents complain to me that there is too much conflict and that they’re all going in different directions. As a result, communication between members can be ineffective and tense. This is especially true when parents are trying to raise children and teenagers who participate in afterschool activities and have converging interests and needs.

For instance, Alana, 46, a single mom with three children, ages ten to fifteen, wants her kids to get along better, stop bickering and arguing, and to be more respectful to her and each other.

Alana reflects, “We all love each other but our schedules are hectic and I don’t have a partner to help me manage my kids’ activities and implement rules and discipline.

During our counseling session, I explained that family meetings can be useful to plan events and to hash out new roles, rules and problems that exist between family members. They can give everyone an opportunity to clear the air when discussing concerns.

For the most part, a family meeting is a good place to be vulnerable with each other and to let your feelings, thoughts, and needs be heard by other members in a safe atmosphere. As long as feelings are stated in a non-blameful way, solutions can be reached through compromise and good listening skills discussed under “8 Rules of Family Meetings” below.

The immense effort it can take to get all family members together is one space is worthwhile in most cases. But by no stretch of the imagination are these meetings easy or without conflict. The most important aspects of the family meeting are structure, flexibility, active listening, and having a recorder to write all your findings down.

Here are 4 Tips for Setting Up Family Meetings:

  1. All members need to have choices regarding the day and time of the meeting. It’s important to try not to leave anyone out, meet on a regular basis, and set a time limit.
  2. Family members are advised to write down complaints, suggestions, or grievances on a slip and put them in a box. A meeting can be held when there are several slips in the box or about once a week.
  3. It is a good idea to request a different volunteer at each meeting to be a scribe and to keep these notes in an agreed upon location in your home.
  4. Any family member can request a family meeting with at least one days’ notice given to other members.

 8 Rules of Family Meetings:

  1. Practice tolerance and fairness. The thoughts and feelings of all family members count equally regardless of age or status.
  2. All family members turn off electronic devices during meetings unless someone is on call or has an elderly relative.
  3. Ask a volunteer to write down the agenda for the next meeting and to post it in a prominent place in your home.
  4. Feelings are accepted and validated and not judged to be right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable.
  5. No accusations and name-calling are allowed at meetings. The best way to avoid this is to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements. For instance, if you are feeling upset because your kids leave their dishes in the sink, it’s more effective to say, “I would appreciate it if you’d put your dishes in the dishwasher,” rather than “You kids are slobs and never clean up after yourself.”
  6. The problem-solving stage comes next, and this is the time for compromise after brainstorming solutions. The adults need to take the lead here because they have more experience. However, children often come up with creative solutions and feel empowered when they can share them without criticism. Once a solution has been accepted by most family members, write it down and post it in a location in our home for all to view.
  7. Take a Break if anyone feels flooded. If there’s a lot of conflict between family members, it’s a good idea to take a twenty-minute break or schedule a smaller meeting for members when family members can more easily feel validated and work towards a compromise. But don’t let more than twenty-four hours go by until you meet again.
  8. End family meetings on a positive note. Be sure to conclude meetings with positive feedback and encouragement so that family members will feel okay or even good about coming to meetings again.

Keep in mind that the focus of a family meeting is to address how the family is doing as a whole, rather than individual grievances. Be sure that everyone has a chance to speak and be heard. All family members are advised to validate the feelings of other members and to show respect during meetings. Playing a game of cards or a board game at the conclusion of the meeting can help to encourage bonding, good communication, and more good times during family meetings!

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebookand, Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.

I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry 


"Comics worthy of attention👉🏼q.657MW.US/TR5347K"

5 Amazing Things Single Parents Can ..."
"Thanks for sharing with us such an amazing thought. If you are a student and ..."

How to Handle Your Child When ..."
"Thanks for this amazing thought. If you are looking for the best nursing assignment help ..."

How Small Gestures Can Improve Your ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

Close Ad