Family meetings and transfer of values
I don’t remember my parents ever having a family meeting when I was a kid. Like so many others, they were focused on the day to day, paying the bills, getting through the week.
I really wish they had.
It’s so easy to lose sight of the role we play in each other’s lives when we focus on just the task at hand without seeing the bigger picture. A family can be so much more than that.
Family meetings play an important role in the transfer of values from one generation to the next. The pop culture and social media influences on young people can be very strong, and without clear and consistent reinforcement of family values, it’s easy for young ones to be led astray from the ways they were taught. We’d like to assume that children are learning from example; but sometimes they don’t, and it’s necessary to take the time and communicate.
There’s an immense reward for keeping your family focused on what matters. I’ve observed many “best practice” examples in my 39 years of advising families. And unfortunately a few disasters.
Are you holding family meetings? If not, try one sometime. It doesn’t have to be that frequent or lengthy – with frequency and duration dictated by the age of your children (maybe just once a month for 10 minutes).
Here are some items you may wish to include on the agenda:
- Each person’s goals as an individual
- Your collective goals/mission as a family
- The values that are important to you as a family
- The legacy you want your family to leave
- Family finances
- The meaning and purpose of your wealth
- The impact you want your family to have on the world
The mood should be fun and upbeat. Everyone has a voice. More listening than pontificating. You’re building something together.
These meetings can also help to instill much-needed financial literacy.
- For young children, you can establish a checking account and have your child report back about how much the balance grew every month, paying them for helping with household chores.
- For older children, you can talk about credit card management, (or) savings strategies, and funding goals.
- For adult children, talk about the idea of philanthropy and making a financial contribution to the world, if that is a value your family holds.
We encourage the families we work with to hold family meetings on a regular basis. But we’d be curious to hear from those actually holding family meetings. If this is common practice for you, what’s working? What has your experience been?
If not, we hope we’ve inspired you to try it out.
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