Family Meetings

Teach each other using family meetings by holding them with your adult children and grand children.

A multi-generation family meeting can be a great forum to guide your adult children and to learn from them, as well as to teach the next generation (your grandkids).

If you set the stage correctly, holding a family meeting with your adult children can facilitate open discussion on relevant topics, educational sessions from any family member to the others and shared decision making; as well as potentially ease those difficult conversations we need to have from time to time.

Here are three steps to set the stage for your first meeting with your adult children:

1) Examine your objectives and ensure that you are willing to engage in open, shared communication and potentially in shared decision making. If you secretly hope to use the meeting as a forum to lecture or badger your children, chances of a successful outcome are greatly reduced.

2)Think about what you want from a family meeting. Here are a few things that a family meeting could allow your family to do:

  • Educate the younger family members in basic finance and family traditions
  • Share news, accomplishments and decision making responsibilities
  • Pass the torch from the older to the younger generation to ensure the family mission and values survive
  • Introduce family members to your professional team of accountant, lawyer, financial advisor and etc (or you to theirs!).
  • Build bonds across the 3rd generation (aka ‘the cousins’), when family ties typically begin to dissipate.
  • Share resources and strengths with each other.
  • Provide an opportunity for ongoing mentor-ship by you of your adult children and of you by them.

3) Discuss the concept with the family members who would attend – to gain acceptance and involvement from them.

From this point, you can proceed to planning your very first meeting.

Our family has been holding these meetings for several years.  We are working our way through some of the hoped for benefits of meeting as a family.

Holding these meetings gives us an opportunity to have an ongoing opportunity to interact as adults and as a family with purpose.

See our first family meeting checklist for additional detail on preparation steps you may want to take prior to your first meeting.

Have you ever attended or held a family meeting?  How was it different from a family reunion?

Sources include:

  • “Conducting Successful Family Business Transition Meetings” in the “Building for the Successful Transition of Your Agricultural Business” Fact Sheet Series by Chris Zoller – Ohio State University Extension Educator, Tuscarawas County September, 2007
  • “Family Meetings” by Kristin Zolten, M.A. & Nicholas Long, Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences ©1997, 2006 as posted on
  •  “Should We Have a Family Meeting?” The Calibre Papers, Spring 2007 Volume One

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