I had the privilege to participate in a family meeting this past week. I’ve helped facilitate numerous family meetings over the years and I always find them to be a rich experience.
Those of you unfamiliar with a family meeting in the context of financial planning might be wondering about the purpose. Of course, each family meeting is tailored to the desires and personality of the parent(s) leading the meeting, but the following are typically some of the key components.
- History – The facts and circumstances that have contributed to their current financial situation.
- Values – The principles and virtues that have shaped their thinking and behaviors.
- Current Financial Situation – The financial information they feel is important for their children to know and what financial decisions might need to be made in the future.
Sharing these personal matters with adult children takes vulnerability and might not be appropriate in some situations; however, for families that are close relationally and have an existing level of trust, a family meeting can have some powerful benefits. The following are some of the benefits I have observed:
- Clearer expectations – When parents communicate their intentions and the purpose behind their plans, children have a healthy perspective of what to expect in the future. I find that missed expectations are often a major factor in family discord after parents have passed.
- Deeper Trust – When parents display personal vulnerability with their children, it deepens the trust within the family.
- Closer Relationships – A meeting filled with meaningful and open communication ultimately builds closer relationships in both directions. The children feel more connected with their parents and the siblings’ relationships with each other are strengthened as well.
I’m clearly a proponent for family meetings and would encourage you to plan one if you think it could be beneficial for your family. If you would like to explore this idea, please let us know and we would be happy to discuss this in more detail.
Even if a formal family meeting is not feasible, I’d encourage you to practice having meaningful and open communication with your family. Working to deepen your family relationships is always a worthy pursuit.
Have you had a family meeting, either formally or informally? If so, we’d love to hear your experience.