Family councils are a great tool in a parent's arsenal because they are a problem-solving meeting where everyone has a voice, where the family can unite around a common goal and where the responsibility of creating a happy home can be shared. The Three Musketeer shout, "All for one, one for all," can serve as a model for conducting family councils.
Quinn, a father and grandfather of a large family, has held family councils for more than two decades. He suggests that family councils are part of a divine pattern for learning, for achieving concord, for securing action plans and for generating satisfying interpersonal relationships.
There are numerous benefits to family councils. Here are a few:
Free flow of ideas
It's a discussion
Everyone gets a voice and a choice
Operate at the group's pace
Some decisions may take several councils others just one
Parents listen instead of lecture
Natural teaching time
Kids' ears tend to be open when they feel heard
Everyone works toward a common goal
Includes every member of the council who is willing to be included and contribute
Hard feelings can be shared and resolved
What can we discuss in a family council?
Moving, household chores, financial issues and college planning are just a few ideas that could be discussed in a family council.
Over a recent school break, I struggled with enforcing rules and being consistent with discipline. I turned to the family council. Because the council was a discussion about discipline rather than a lecture, my kids were engaged. After voting on rules and consequences, we posted them for future reference. Now I no longer feel like a police officer in my home. Instead me and my husband and our children, are checking our behavior against the mutually agreed upon family rules. Our home has become more peaceful as a result of our "all for one, one for all" changes.
How do we get started?
It's easier than you might think to start holding family councils.
Choose a time and place where everyone is able to meaningfully engage.
Come with a specific question or problem in mind.
Employ democratic principles as you work toward a consensus.
Follow up by holding another family council at an agreed upon date and time.
Josh is a father of four who needed to know how his kids felt about a family vacation. He gathered his family on a Sunday night when all the children were at home. Everyone suggested a vacation destination. Notes were taken and assignments given to research costs and bring back information for the next council. In the interim, Josh helped the children find information online about their destinations of choice.
At the next council, everyone voted and after some discussion a consensus was reached. Next, they discussed activities to participate in while on the vacation. Again assignments were made, information was gathered and reported and a vote was held. Josh was surprised that his children didn't want to spend a whole week at a particular amusement park. His children were interested in variety, but also down time. Had Josh decided unilaterally on a family vacation location and agenda instead of counseling with his wife and children, their family vacation could have been less successful.
By holding family councils you'll create your own band of musketeers. Cooperation will increase as you unify around a common goal, get buy-in from family members on decisions that affect everyone and share the responsibility of creating a happy home.