Your family is an organization

It is good to remember that a family is an organization. In fact, it is the basic organization of society. This is just one of the reasons why I am such a supporter of family gatherings. You wouldn’t think of running a successful business without a plan, goal setting meetings, team building sessions, and clear missions and expectations. As such, everyone in the family should have an equivalent to a job description. Each person’s job description helps you define their roles and responsibilities in the family.

Just like in the workplace, the clearer the job description and the more the participant’s input is solicited, the more ownership is established. If you’ve ever worked in a workplace where no one knew what their day-to-day job was and the rules were arbitrary, you’ll remember how chaotic and frustrating it was for everyone.

The following information on structuring a family council has been compiled in part from information contained in the Dinkmeyer & McKay Parent Handbook, as well as twenty-five years of personal experience.


A family council is a regularly scheduled meeting of all family members. Its purpose is to make plans and decisions, provide encouragement, and solve problems. It is much like a team building or staff meeting that takes place in the workplace. Plans and decisions made during a family meeting remain in effect until the next meeting.


or be heard

o Convey positive feelings about each other

or encourage

o Distribute tasks fairly

o Set goals for the family unit and help with personal goals

o Express concerns, feelings and complaints

o Resolve conflicts and deal with recurring problems

o Family recreation plan

or have fun


o Establish a specific weekly meeting time.

o Rotate president and secretary.

o Set and stick to time limits.

o Make sure all members have an opportunity to offer ideas.

o Encourage everyone to mention the problems.

o Don’t let meetings turn into grievance sessions.

o Distribute tasks fairly.

o Family fun plan.

o Use your communication skills. Use “I” statements

o Evaluate the meeting.

o Maintain an environment of mutual respect and honesty.


o Share positive feelings about the good things that have happened during the week.

o Read and discuss the minutes of the previous meeting.

o Discuss old issues. Evaluate how the tasks of the week went.

o Raise new issues (focusing on family fun as well as plans and problems).

o Summarize and evaluate the meeting.

The agreements, as well as the logical consequences for not fulfilling the assignments, must be discussed and agreed upon by the family. All members should be encouraged to participate in family gatherings as equals. Family gatherings are essential if families want to build strong relationships.

Good luck and God bless you. You do the most important job in the world.

© 2005

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