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Calm the Chaos - Regular Family Meetings focus on Positive Communication

Calm the Chaos - Regular Family Meetings focus on Positive Communication

Published: 08/15/2011 by Eva Macyszyn B.S.W., R.S.W

» Health and Wellness

One issue that can be a serious concern for families is a lack of positive communication. Nowadays most of us live in “the fast lane”. We are constantly in a hurry and we struggle to find quality time to spend with one another. Between work commitments, running a household, time consuming technology and a child participating in extra curriculum activities, there seems little time left for the family and sometimes that put everyone in a difficult position to function at their best. When time is tight, sometimes we communicate more about problems . . . annoyances and irritations that arise and are on our mind at that second in time. That means we tend to communicate in the heat of the moment when upset, frustrated and threatened.

One step to positive communication is holding regular family meetings. For many the term “family meeting” evokes images of parents going on about subjects kids don’t want to hear about, or trying to find out who did what and how the perpetuator will be punished. In general, family meetings should be fun, productive and bring families closer together.

For example, imagine running a company without developing a plan, identifying problems and then never meeting together to discuss the progress. The company would struggle. Holding regular meetings between partners is a crucial part of running a business. The same holds true for most families. Holding regular meetings when every family member is calm and relaxed provides an opportunity to plan, resolve problems and find workable solutions in a positive way so they do not fester and escalate into major problems.

However, holding family meetings can seem strangely awkward. The key is to remember that the family meeting is meant to be relaxed and fun. It is a time to catch up and find out what is going in everyone’s lives. Regularly weekly meetings might deal with daily decisions such as who will drive to activities and who will cook dinner.  It may also cover major issues such as setting family goals or planning and budgeting for a family vacation and at other times a meeting may be called for minor issues, such as what the plans will be for the long weekend. Every meeting will be different for each family but with the same purpose to connect and to open the doors to positive communication.

When you first introduce the family meeting keep it positive and simple. I recommend 15 minutes maximum for a family meeting with small children while 30 to 45 minutes may work great for families with older kids. Other things you can consider are: take turns chairing the meeting, ask for topics to discuss and create an agenda.  As for timing, meeting on a Saturday or Sunday after supper when everyone is relaxed, in a good mood and not rushing to activities may work well. You can also make your family meetings special! Serve a favourite dessert or watch a movie or go out for a treat when the meeting ends. That’s one way to ensure everyone looks forward to this activity!

Aside from the positive impacts on the relationships within your family, meetings teach how to cooperate, set goals, negotiate, plan time wisely and most importantly communicate freely and openly. Life lessons that are a positive addition to everyone!