Want to  hold family meetings, but still scared or just too overwhelmed to think about getting started. Here’s help. Start small, but work up to this.

 Jo Frost is a pro. As shown in this video, every one of her shows demonstrates a small family business meeting. Usually, it is to set the rule changes. Every family member is there no matter their age. Rules and consequences are laid out. Then of course comes the hard part, bringing the kids in line with the new rules. But the rule changes start with a family meeting. 

Jo does not use the format I suggest, but her no nonsense, these are the rules like them or not approach is the stance you are seeking to model. You can start working toward that goal today.

Parenting advice about starting family meetings 

Here are my tips for a slow start to family meetings.

Tip one: Practice Jo’s no-nonsence stance.  One of the things I used to do at workshops was ask the participants to tell me when they knew their parents meant business. The answers varied from “The Look” to “The Voice” to “His belt coming off” or “The switch came out.”

The point? Kids know when you mean business and the game is up for dis-obeying. Too many of us warn and warn and warn, and slowly heat up until we mean business. Believe me I know that.

But a little practice modeling Jo’s demeanor combined with the word’s “I mean business.” is actually the start of getting the kids ready to have family meetings.  You can even say it with a bit of anger.  Few of us can stay as calm and cool as Super Nanny and I suspect being in front of the cameras helps her maintain her cool.

Tip two:  Start labeling activities as family meetings. Going to the park to play? Family Fun Meeting. Going to visit family?  Family Visit Meeting. Need to discuss a serious lapse in rules? “I need to have a Family Business Meeting with you, right now.”

You already have those kinds of meetings, labeling them as Family Meetings or Family Business Meetings gets the ball rolling for more formal meetings.

Tip three: Big news for all the family? Going to be moving to a new town, a new house? Planning on buying a new car?  New baby coming? A beloved relative coming to visit? Discussing this as a family in a more formal Family Meeting is best.

Gather everyone around the dining room table with the announcement: “We have family business to discuss.”  Make the announcement and then put my Family Meeting rules in play. End with the meeting with a treat.

Tip four: Never beat up on yourself for not doing everything a parent is supposed to do.  The idea of formal family business meetings didn’t occur to me when raising my children.  I wish it had and now do call for an occasional family meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern.  My kids might have been strengthened if I had had meetings, but they turned out just fine. Most kids in good enough families do.

I learned about the value of family meetings when directing Mental Health Family Support programs.  I am now convinced of their value.  So I preach and teach how to hold them. Not to add a burden, but because I have seen family after family  get better organized, reduce stress, communicate better, and improve family togetherness when they add formal family business meetings to their life.

Stay strong

Here comes the commercial ‘How To Hold Successful Family Meetings’is  available on Amazon Kindle free until midnight June 25th.  Still not convinced that your family could benefit? Think again. Here’s a fantastic recommendation for this eBook:

As a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist, I have the distinct pleasure of helping family members communicate better and connect with one another. Helping parents step into their role as “leader” in the family is often part of the process. For a parent, knowing how to effectively be in charge can be at the top of the list of parental challenges. And as many parents know, when they are not effective, general chaos can ensue, children run the ship, and parents get run ragged. After reading Katherine Gordy Levine’s How to Hold Successful Family Meetings, I was both inspired and encouraged to introduce my families to this simple and thorough approach to family communication. The book offers explanations for communication breakdowns in families, solutions for repairing the breakdowns, and tips for strengthening bonds between family members. It does more than that, though. It reminds parents to be kind to themselves! They are already “good-enough parents”.

It is true that parents today sometimes get caught in a power struggle with their children. The firm authoritative voice of parents past is often replaced by `parents as friends’ or parents saying “I am just not there enough, and I feel guilty, so I give in”. Something as simple as regular communication can calm the struggle and restore the parent’s natural abilities to guide their children. Holding scheduled and consistent family meetings in which all family members have an opportunity to talk about concerns, goals, hopes, weekly accomplishments, house duties, and agenda-items, such as “family fun events”, allows family members to listen to each other better, be more direct with each other, and have fun together once family business is done.

As stated in the book, the family meetings are designed in the same manner as a business meeting is run, a “family business” meeting. Everyone is allowed the same amount of time to speak, there is an agenda, meeting minutes are kept, there are rules, such as Respect Self and Others, and there are consequences when the rules are broken. The book also addresses potential concerns a parent may have about their ability to hold such meetings and their confidence about whether their child/ren can successfully participate. Step-by-step direction, encouragement, and understanding are offered throughout the book. Parents are even given suggestions for responding to non-participation, non-compliance, and “other strategies for success”. Families need guidance and in our new world of gadgets and technology, “family time around the table” has all but faded into the past. This book offers a solution and walks the parent gently through the process. I will definitely be recommending this book to my families.

Colleen Marie Cavanagh, MS, LCSW from

Thank you Colleen.  you made me feel my efforts are  worth while. Thank all the others who share and care, you make a difference, you make the world better.



  1. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. Ill probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

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