Elder M. Russell Ballard recently gave us the council to hold regular family councils (April 2016 General Conference). He said, "Family councils have always been needed. They are, in fact, eternal. We belonged to a family council in the premortal existence, when we lived with our heavenly parents as their spirit children." In January, I shared with you a Family Agenda printable to help you make this goal possible. We've been holding ours ever since and have learned a few things along the way.
As we've held family council it has:
- Helped me stay organized and on top of things. I no longer feel so frazzled.
- Helped my whole family feel more organized. They know what to expect in the upcoming week. Those that need that heads up especially feel calmer and there is less arguing about things like chores and who gets to sit in the front seat.
- Given my children a bigger voice. They love having a consistent, set forum to voice their concerns, ask about outings, and more.
- Helped me say Yes more to my kids. When 5 kids ask you the same question at 5 different times during the day there is a point you get overwhelmed and start saying No. Since we have this one time to ask about a lot of things, it's easier for me to scheduled in their requests and say Yes.
- Given us time to solve family problems as a family. It's a time to talk about things that affect the whole family and address them together. Elder Ballard told us that there is power in solving problems as a family; it's true.
- Helped us focus on how we can help our extended family or others in our community.
Ready to hold your own family council? Elder Ballard shared 4 different types of family councils and his tips. I'll include some of his words as well as some of the things we've learned along the way. It's important to note that Family Councils are different that Family Home Evenings. Elder Ballard stated,
"Please remember that family councils are different from family home evening held on Mondays. Home evenings focus primarily on gospel instruction and family activities. Family councils, on the other hand, can be held on any day of the week, and they are primarily a meeting at which parents listen—to each other and to their children."
General Family Council
This is when you get the whole family together to talk. It doesn't have to be formal but it's easy to do so. We have ours every Sunday morning. It's been a great way to remind my family of ways we can focus on improving our Sabbath observance as well. Either way, Elder Ballard and I both agree, put the electronics away!
Print off your free Weekly Family Agenda to use one week as a jumping off point then customize it to fit your needs. I have tweaked the original agenda I shared with you as we've figured out what works for us. Included in this Weekly Family Agenda is the following:
- Scripture- We generally pick a monthly one and recite it each week. The theme focuses on either a family solution or around a holiday. It's another time to instill the love of scriptures.
- 1 Hour Organization- This gets filled in when my husband and I do our Executive Council. In our ever continual efforts to be and stay organized we plan each week to work together in one specific area for 1 hour- no more. It's been excellent because it's not too long and overwhelming but really helps us stay organized.
- Weekly Calendar- Go over each day and add things in. This is a great time for children to bring up their items too. Someone might say that they have a test and need help studying for it while another might ask to have a friend come over.
- FHE Plans- We go over the assignments again at this time. It's a weakness of ours but since doing these meetings we have been a lot more consistent. Since we do ours on Sunday, it's a great time to do all our Family Home Evening prep- plan lessons, make the treat, etc. I have 2 weeks of treats listed on this agenda so you know ahead of time what you will need to buy for the following week.
- Grocery Needs- You know what you need but this gives the whole family a chance to voice their wants and needs as well. The surprise bonus for us has been discussing the differences between special occasion foods and everyday food.
- Good Things- Take a minute and say something good about each family member during your councils. Your children will light up and you will find a new spirit in your home. We take so much time to correct, it's important to take the time to let each other know you appreciate the good they are doing as well. You can also take this time to say something great about the past week.
- Service Ideas- It is often through service that you will solve many of your family problems. If there has been a lot of arguing in your family, make a goal to do something nice for someone in the family each day that week. It will also help you look outside yourselves which makes your own problems smaller.
- Chores- Review the responsibilities in your house. It's also another great time to share some praise.
- Date- It's nice to look back at the previous week so this helps me keep things in order. I also tend to write down notes as we go through our meeting so it helps me keep track of things.
Also try out Emilie's Family Council Agenda and see what style works best for you or combine them to make your own.
This council consists of the 2 adults in the house. My husband and I try to meet together the night before our General Council so a lot of the agenda is already filled in and we know what to discuss. Elder Ballard also recommended that you take the time to talk about your relationship. If you really want to work on strengthening your marriage, try the Marriage Masters Program from The Dating Divas. You might also want to talk about other family members and how you can help them together. You may want to try holding an Executive Council every night before couple prayer instead of once a week.
A Limited Council consists of both parents and one child. Elder Ballard suggested taking the time to write down goals together at this time. We found that this type of council works best for us when we take one child out on a walk. No one can interrupt us and the child really opens up as we listen and walk. Since we have 5 kids, we assigned each a day of the week so we can do this often. Our children have really thrived with this.
One parent and one child meet together in this type of council. These are my favorite councils; we call it special time. Try to do these as often as possible. If you can, take only one child with you to the grocery store or to do other errands. It's a great opportunity to teach life skills while bonding and listening. As Elder Ballard stated, "Children need parents who will listen to them." That's what this council is especially about. Want to keep this special time fun but planned? Give each child a Family Fun Packet. They are big hits in our house and don't have to cost anything.
Strengthen your family more in this 3 week study of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
Your Turn- How do you make Family Councils work for you? What's your favorite type of council?