Have you ever thought to yourself, “I love my family, but I feel so alone and annoyed…we have so many unresolved issues” Does that disquieted thought often come during or after a series of epic misunderstandings or arguments with your child or spouse, after which you are often left bewildered, thinking to yourself ‘How did we get here?’ You’re not alone, and there is probably one important thing missing…the Family Meeting.
Why Have Family Meetings?
When it comes to educating our children, one of the most important yet often overlooked strategies is having regular family meetings. With the fast-paced lifestyles of both parents and children, families rarely take the time needed to discuss important issues, get on the same page, and work together to find solutions. As Muslims, it is imperative that we see the significance of each individual family unit, for it is each family unit that creates the fabric of our ummah. In order to have a strong ummah that serves Islam, we must see the duty we each carry in creating strong units. Just like regular meetings are needed in any organization or work environment in order to meet the goals for that organization, regular family meetings are needed to meet central family goals, and ultimately keep you communicating, connected, and strong.
There is a large and growing body of research about the significance of having regular family meetings. It indicates that families that regularly hold meetings are more enduring, cohesive, affectionate, and raise children who go on to form successful families themselves. It is important to note that these families are NOT trouble-free or perfect. These families have the same health, financial, and life problems as everyone else, but they grow to become more adaptable and able to deal with crisis constructively.
12 Benefits and Goals
- Everyone, and especially children, learn first hand the concept of interdependence and connection. They learn the valuable life lesson that what each person in the family does can have an effect on everyone else. This is priceless.
- Children will learn the concept of sacrifice and ithaar, as they learn that decisions are made based on what is good for the family as a whole, and not just themselves.
- Parents model the proper akhlaq (manners) of conflict resolution and problem-solving strategies for children
- Meetings give everyone a chance to bring up topics of concern or interest, thereby building a healthy sense of confidence. Children are treated with respect and dignity and whose ideas are heard and considered.
- Family meetings provide time for families to build a culture of Islamic values by discussing upcoming important events and Eids.
- Children will naturally learn important life skills such as compromise, cooperation, sacrifice, and more. These skills will transfer and allow them to effectively deal with challenges and problems in other situations and settings.
- The sense of family love, connection, and cohesiveness will increase as children form their identity around their family and core family values.
- Family meetings counterbalance the hectic lives that today’s parents and children lead; the technological distractions of social media, smartphones, and media consumption, extra-curricular activities, school and work pressures all pull family members in different directions.
- Family meetings serve as a centrifugal force that grounds families and encourages connections and identity. They send a clear message to the child that family time is important and is a priority.
- Family meetings provide a platform for conflicts to be addressed and for problems to be resolved in a way that is clear and focused on solutions. The parents will set the limits of what is acceptable, but everyone has input.
- Children learn to examine situations, propose solutions, evaluate results with guidance, support, and demonstrations from parents and older siblings. They begin to see themselves as capable of finding solutions to problems.
- Family meetings can be used by parents to establish ground rules for the children to follow, providing a wonderful platform to establish new rules or routines in the household.
Read Part II to find out about how to implement a simple 5-step research-backed family meetings that work! Check it out here!