The family is the basic school of Virtue - Spencer W. Kimball
WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FAMILY COUNCIL? The family is the incubator for growth of attitudes, feelings, sentiments, habits, and behavior. If the family operates in an efficient, friendly, sensible and respectful manner, the children will learn to behave the same way. They will be on their way to being responsible and resourceful people. We are convinced that inherent in all children is the potentiality of these qualities. Used properly, the Family Council can produce independent, spiritual men and women growing to be like their Father in Heaven.
I HAVE NO HUSBAND/WIFE. IS THE FAMILY COUNCIL A GOOD IDEA? Yes, a family with one parent needs a Family Council equally if not more than a two-parent family. If you have children, discuss the concepts with them and get their buy-in.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO BE IN THE FAMILY AND HOW OLD DO THE CHILDREN HAVE TO BE? A single adult can benefit from the council. Even a two-person family can benefit. Any child who can talk can participate. Have the younger children playing in the room if possible.
DOES THE FAMILY COUNCIL HAVE TO BE SO FORMAL WITH ALL SORTS OF RULES? No. Each family decides the degree of formality it desires but meeting rules help to provide order and harmony. In some families, only a secretary is selected who keeps minutes. Minutes are valuable in reliving the family experiences and decisions. We do find prayer a key element to keep the council “under God”.
CAN ANYONE’S CONCERNS BE DISCUSSED AT A FAMILY COUNCIL? Yes. Parents should learn to keep their complaints/concerns for the Family Council (some items need to be handled in executive council) and encourage the children to do likewise. Keep the meeting upbeat and positive. Family Council will have a powerful affect on the family management and helps set the tone of the family operation.
WHAT IS THE FAMILY COUNCIL FOR BESIDES SETTLING CONCERNS? The Family Council is for all family business: establish family mission, outlining goals, establishing family rules and roles, making plans, discussing education, employment, vacations, planning parties and picnics, negotiating allowances, planning for guests, discussing chores, calendaring, discussing finances, planning service for others and strengthening family ties. In summary all family physical and spiritual needs can be agenda items. Parents should try to reserve decisions for the Family Council so everyone's opinions can be heard and decisions made with the entire family in attendance. Most decisions are not so urgent that they cannot wait for the next council meeting. Sub-committees may do detail planning to minimize discussion during Family Council if a subject is noncontroversial.
HOW LONG SHOULD MEETINGS LAST? This varies with the family, the ages of the children, the amount of business at hand and other factors. Twenty minutes is good for families with small children. The meeting should have a set time. In other cases, the meeting can continue until all business has been settled, but usually no longer than one hour. Sub -committees on special topics can reduce the time in Family Council. (Sometimes it turns into a fun rap session with teenagers.)
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISTAKES IN RUNNING A FAMILY COUNCIL? 1.Not starting/stopping on time Wasting family member’s time will discourage them. Dragging the meeting on will cause members of the council to lose interest. Keep to the agenda and established time. The minutes should record actions that need to be taken and who is responsible.
2.Canceling meetings Do not cancel meetings without notifying all member of the council. Plan ahead and keep a regular schedule.
3. Meeting at meal time Meals are a distraction to the council meetings though may be necessary to hold a mini-council at meal time.
4.Parental domination It is important to help members of the family understand the need for a course of action. Talk about the whys and the consequence of actions. Only use directive statements for the immediate safety and well-being of a family member.
5. Getting discouraged Do not be discouraged particularly if you have teenagers. Persistency will pay off. You should see results with a matter of weeks.
6.Not following through on agreements/actions Your family will see the council is of limited value if actions agreed upon are not completed.
7.Not respecting the right of free expression of all family members regardless of age a. Cutting off family members ideas during a discussion b. Be careful to allow a full hearing of an idea. Children will sometimes cut each other off. A gentle reminder may be required. c. Failure to following up on actions
IS FAMILY COUNCIL A CURE-ALL FOR ALL FAMILIES? No. However, used properly with full understanding of the philosophy and theory of Godly Councils, the Family Council can be a great help in establishing better relationships and in having a more pleasant and orderly family. It helps develop a home of peace and refuge and a house of God.