Family meetings are a great way to set limits because it gives both parents and children a say in the family’s rules.
Many experts see family meetings as an ideal opportunity to open the doors of communication between parents and children and allow everyone a say in the household rules. But how do you go about holding one? According to parent educator, Sheila Boyce, these meetings should be handled just like a business meeting except instead of being held around the boardroom table, they’re held around the kitchen table “weekly, at a regular time that everyone agrees on and when no-one has anything major to give up to be there.” Boyce adds meetings “should be short and never an unhappy experience. People can express things that are bothering them, but should never attack others. It’s not a fighting time. It’s a time when everybody gets to talk and have an opinion. It’s a time when the family can come to a consensus.”
And if you think these meetings are only for older children, think again. Boyce says kids of all ages have a lot to gain from them. “Children learn how to speak up in meetings and that their opinion means something. They learn the democratic process and to take responsibility for the decisions being made. If they’re a part of the decision making process then they are more likely to follow through. So if it comes to household chores then the child is more likely to do them if they’ve had a chance to say yes or no, or a chance to say what they like to do.”
The late H. Stephen Glenn, author of “Raising Self-Reliant Children”, was also a proponent of the family meeting, but warned, “many people have failed at family meetings because they always focus on what’s wrong. The most successful ones offer compliments to each other and acknowledge ways someone has contributed.”
Overall, family meetings can strengthen bonds between children and parents, provide an opportunity to set rules and consequences as well as family goals. So find a time and date, and sit down for one of the most important meetings of your life, the family meeting!