How to Improve Family Relationships: Regular Family Meetings

Just as timeouts are necessary in a basketball game, so the coach can communicate and inspire his team, parents should be calling for family meetings to improve family relationships. In our busy, technological world, it is easy for families to find themselves detached from each other. Taking the time for family meetings can bring your family closer and maintain healthy relationships.

“Family meetings are about nourishing our relationships with the most important people in our lives.” – Scott Brand,

Preventing issues before they become issues

Increasing communication improves family relationships. Holding weekly family meetings allows every member of the family a time to talk about issues they are facing, with each other, in school or with peers. When you’re son or daughter is able to express frustrations over small issues, it will be easier for them to communicate on more serious matters. During family meetings, any member of the family can bring up concerns, allowing for possible resolutions before things get out of control.

Teaching communication skills

During family meetings, make sure communication does not turn into a yelling match or complete silence. Establish a safe environment where problems can be discussed openly with mutual respect and understanding. Teach about active listening and do not allow anyone to interrupt or raise his or her voice. Allowing each member to lead a family meeting can also teach leadership skills.

Taking advantage of the time you have

Getting every child and parent together for any length of time can be difficult. With sports games, dance recitals, loads of homework and office meetings, there always seems to be something to do or somewhere to go.
Family meetings do not have to be a formal occasion. Use the time you already have together to increase parent/teen communication. Dinnertime is an excellent opportunity to gather the entire family together on a daily basis.

“If your family has the TV on at the dinner table rather than talking to each other about their days, you are missing out on an opportune time to strengthen your all too critical family bond.” – Karen Corcoran-Walsh, founder of Inspiration for Youth and Families Teen Rehab

Keeping your family meetings fun with games and activities can help set the mood for the entire meeting and help children see the meeting in a positive light. Take time to acknowledge recent accomplishments or express appreciation for what someone has done.

Helpful tips for how to improve family relationships

To get started with family meetings, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Set ground rules for appropriate behavior
  • Have a schedule prepared
  • Don’t get too serious, too fast – start by talking about the best things that happened that week, telling a funny story. Anything that gets everyone talking
  • Encourage, but don’t mandate participation – don’t expect total participation at your first meeting; it might take teenagers a while to adjust. Make sure everyone gets involved through gentle questioning, not interrogation
  • Take notes – keep a record of decisions made or personal concerns to follow up on
  • Keep talking – when big issues arise, do not end the meeting until everyone can agree on an outcome

Although family meetings might not eliminate all teen problems, increasing the amount of time spent communicating with each other will make parents more aware of what activities your teen is involved in and who they are hanging out with. Improving family relationships is a process that takes time and dedication. All family problems will not be solved during one meeting.

A third party mitigator

If family problems have already progressed, involving a counselor is a good option. Having an unbiased, professional opinion can help navigate deeper issues. Trails Carolina understands the importance of improving family relationships. Our family therapists work with every individual to ensure positive family relationships.
Even though your children might not look forward to family meetings at first, it will be a huge benefit for everyone involved. Remember, it is never too late to try and improve family relationships.

Call Trails Carolina today, at 800-975-7303, to see how we can help you and your troubled teen improve family relationships.

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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