In order for families to operate in a healthy and efficient matter, there must be effective communication between family members. Whether your family comes together to engage in light-hearted discussions that bring each member closer or the family has to address serious matters -- such as divorce, wills or end-of-life plans -- families should consistently make time to meet and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas with one another.
Learn More About Each Other
Families can spend their time getting to know more about one another during a family meeting or discussion. Jodi Helseth, a licensed counselor and play therapist, says family meetings shouldn't be solely reserved for ironing out family problems and disputes. Family discussions can be centered on learning more about your children's likes, dislikes, strengths and weakness. Get creative and turn the discussion into a game where each member takes turns answering certain questions about other members -- and offer a prize to the family member with the most knowledge of the entire family. Discussions that allow each family member to reveal more about themselves to other members encourage closeness and bonding within the family unit.
Family Trips and Activities
Families can organize discussions that address vacation planning, arrangements for traditional family events and other family activities. While parents are often the ones who make the decision, allow your kids to offer input on how to plan the upcoming Easter holiday tradition, Fourth of July celebration or Thanksgiving gathering. Letting your kids participate in the planning and organization of events gives them valuable experience with these useful skills. If your family arrives at an impasse and it becomes difficult for all members to come to an agreement, the Help Guide website recommends that everyone takes some time to regulate any negative emotions that may arise from disagreements, and work to find a compromise at another time that works best for everyone.
Family members should meet to plan and discuss appropriate courses of action in case of an emergency. Your family's safety plan should include information such as emergency contacts and resources to use in the event of a family crisis -- like a break-in or being locked out of the home, for example -- how to manage family conflicts, emergency fire exits and addressing medical issues, such as asthma attacks or giving CPR. UL, an independent product safety certification organization, also suggests families agree on meet-up spots in the event of a disaster that displaces you and your family from your home, and prepare emergency safety kits, with items such as flashlights, a first-aid kit and lists of numbers for friends and relatives.
When conflicts arise in families -- as they surely will -- family discussions can help resolve these issues. It's very important for family members to use effective communication skills when attempting to resolve conflicts. The Help Guide website suggests family members learn to listen to each other just as well as they voice their opinions about various issues. Active listening means sincerely trying to understand how other family members feel about an issue instead of focusing on your own thoughts, feelings and rebuttals. When resolving a conflict, focus on creating win-win solutions as best you can -- encouraging other family members to do the same -- instead of being overly concerned about being right. Conflicts are a great opportunity for the family to grow as individuals and as a whole.