Weekly family meetings are an effective and pleasant way to bring the family together, to improve communication, to set weekly goals, to recognize and reward progress, and to determine each member's needs and feelings.
- The meetings should occur at a regular, pleasant time—for instance, after dinner, with dessert.
- Parents can serve as discussion leaders and make sure that any ground rules are clearly explained and understood.
- The meetings should emphasize both individual and family needs, goals, and accomplishments and discuss positive events and efforts. During the meeting parents can give allowances and praise and reward behavior progress and changes. They can also share other relevant family information, such as an upcoming family vacation or school event to prepare for.
- Each family member should be allowed to speak without criticism or interruption, to share his or her thoughts, feelings, achievements, and hopes.
- The meeting is not a time or place to scold, punish, recall past mistakes, blow off steam, or single out a particular person. Those issues should be taken up separately and individually.
- The meetings should last no more than twenty or thirty minutes unless the family wants to continue.
- Everyone should understand and accept that parents have the final word in difficult decisions.
- A record should be kept of the main points, rewards, progress toward goals, new goals and agreements.
- Before the meeting ends, anyone who wants to should have a chance to say how he or she thinks the meeting went, and what might be done to make the next meeting better.