Family council is the time when we conduct all the family business. We also set and review family goals. It really keeps us on track. Running a family is like running a business or organization. If you want it to be successful and effective, you need to have a purpose and goals. Our primary and over-arching goal is to return to live with our Heavenly Father, which means that we want to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him. And we know that living in such a way will result in our own greatest happiness. To some, that might sound like a strange or quirky goal. But this goal truly directs all of our decisions as a family. We want to be together forever, because we REALLY like each other.
Over the years, our family council agenda has morphed to fit the needs of our family. Since we speak both German and English at home, the agenda started out in German. I really pushed the German for a long time, but after a while, it just got too difficult to communicate effectively. It just got too hard to discuss the business of our English speaking environment in German. So, eventually, we switched to English. But as you can see on the later agendas, "Speaking German" is always listed as one of our goals. Here's an example of one of our earlier agendas:
German Family Council Agenda
Here are some of the English family council agendas we've used over the years:
English Family Council Agenda (early years).
English Family Council Agenda (middle years)
English Family Council Agenda (another version)
Family Council Agenda filled out with service hours
Nowadays, I bring up the file on the TV screen (instead of printing it and writing on it). I actually fill it out on the computer as we talk. Sometimes, I bring it up on the laptop and then link the screen to the TV so that everyone can see what I'm typing. When we're done, I just "Save As". It's so nice to have a whole history of family council agendas saved on the computer. It's fun to look back on past years and see a snapshot of a given week.
After we're done with family council, I often print out page 2 of the agenda (the page with the goals) and post it where we all can read it throughout the week.
Most Current Family Council Agenda
As you can see from the agenda above, we finally began including the younger kids in our family council meetings. They love to participate and with the older kids at college, it's nice to have a bigger group contributing. When the little ones are participating, we do most of our speaking in German, even though the agenda is in English. If you look at the "goals" section of the above agenda, you'll see that the big kids have English goals and the little kids say their goals in German.
Many years back, we came up with a family motto and added it to our agenda. At the beginning of each family council, one of the kids reads the motto. Some of us have it memorized because we hear it so often. I love hearing the kids read our family motto:
We will have a home filled with laughter, joy, kindness and fun. We will treat each other with respect and love. We will support each other in all that we do. Our entertainment choices, our language, our appearance and our activities will invite the Spirit of the Lord into our family. Each of us will strive to have a strong, personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will put others’ needs ahead of our own. Our focus will be to lift, comfort and bless those around us. We will create fun and lasting family memories and avoid anything that would cause lasting regret.
By the way, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it, if a native German speaker could translate our motto for us. With our younger ones starting to participate, I would love to be able to read the motto in German. I could do it, of course, but I don't think I could do a perfect job.
I also added a "service hours" section a few years back. This has been super helpful. Each week the kids report if they've done any service hours and I log them. It's been so nice to have that info at my fingertips as the kids have filled out scholarships and applied for NHS, etc.
Having family council has blessed our family so much. It has brought us closer together. It has helped us to support each other in our goals. It has helped us to just work out all the logistics of running a family (like who is driving which car to which activity and when). It's helped us to divide the work around the house. It has helped us to celebrate our uniqueness. But mostly, it has helped us to all be on the same page as we work towards the same long-term goal.
I love these articles on the importance of holding family council:
Family Councils---A Conversation
Working Together in Family Councils