Have you ever said this? “We know better, but we haven’t yet made ourselves, as a family, get down on our knees each morning and evening for family prayer.” (De Platt)
Working or praying together as a family is only possible when there is a decision to do so and the resolve to implement that plan. Family councils are a strategy for regular communication about decisions that create healthy relationships. A family council can be a formal meeting with all members of the family or an informal conversation between a parent and one child. Obviously, differences in the formality of the council are reflected in the type of conversations one would expect to have and the decisions that are made. When parents involve their children in decision-making, problems may resolve in ways that involve everyone taking a role in the solution. Family councils can help unite a blended family. (Larson) “The correction of family members in front of others is to be avoided.” (Ashton) But praise and gratitude for family members should happen in front of everyone.
In this post, I would like to consider that there are good, better and best topics to discuss in a family council. The focus I’m making to prioritize what is discussed is not intended to minimize the good that is done at the “good” level, but instead to elevate your thoughts to the “best” conversations that families can have together.
One family had a family council “and came up with a plan that works for them. They set family goals for physical fitness and each person keeps track of his progress on a chart taped to the refrigerator.” (Gardner) Meeting together often allows for changes to be made to family goals and for problems to be solved as they arise.
Good Family Council Topics
- Financial planning with an aging parent
- Writing a will
- End-of-life treatment planning
- Scheduling the week/month/year
- Discussing the goal of a college education with young kids
- Discussing a plan to get out of debt
- Explaining consequences of decisions like using drugs and alcohol
- Making an exercise goal
Better Family Council Topics
- Creating a 10-year vision for the family
- Group projects that the family can work together on
- Planning a family retreat or reunion
- Gather feedback on what’s not working in the family
- Following up on specific assignments given
- Planning for future safety by creating a disaster emergency plan
- Asking about pornography exposure and discussing how to deal with sexuality
Best Family Council Topics
- Memories I can share about my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents with the intent to convey the contribution of our ancestors on our present circumstances
- Conversations about why I believe in God and how my faith has been strengthened
- Sharing love and gratitude for members of the family
- Discussing spiritual needs of the family and making prayer requests
- Sharing fears of abuse or bullying and offering protection
- Gathering to discuss the death of a pet or loved one
- Ways that we can strengthen, improve or save our marriage
“Family councils can help family members become committed to group goals they have helped to formulate. They can also help the family create an atmosphere of respect and understanding, solve differences, and become more organized.” (Gardner) In our family we do a weekly family council between both parents and one child at a time. We use a little book to keep track of weekly decisions so that we can follow up at the next meeting. Family councils have helped us to stay engaged with our teens as they grow up and show our little kids that we love them.
Ballard, Russell. Family Councils. Ensign. April 2016.
Gardner, Marvin. Family Councils: Making Decisions Together. Ensign. December 1978.
Eck, Nichole. Counsel Together Oft: Family Councils for Couples. Ensign. January 2015.
Larson, Jeffry. How to Unite a Step-Family. Ensign. February 1987.
Ashton, Marvin. Family Communications. Ensign. May 1976.
De Platt, Lyman. Organization Begins at Home. Ensign. October 1976.
VanDenBerghe, Paul. Recipe for a Happy Home. New Era. July 2008.