A lot happens in families. Kids get sick. Repairs need to be done. Work, activities, and church all compete for your time. Sometimes you’re just solving problem after problem. It can be overwhelming!
So how do you bring your family closer with all that’s going on?
Thankfully, Heavenly Father has given us a pattern for family life and communication called family councils. Here are four ways to make them work for your family.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “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.”1
Our family councils are modeled after this heavenly council. Mothers and fathers counsel together and also with their children. Single adults may counsel with the Lord and with a circle of trusted family and friends. Counseling is a divine pattern and set of principles that will bring more problem-solving power and harmony into your home. You might be thinking, “How am I going to do that with my kids? They’re not really interested in hearing what I have to say.”
If you approach a family council like a lecture, you’ll miss its full potential. You can help guide the outcome of councils by listening to every voice. A joyful atmosphere can be created where every voice is valued and respected, and everyone feels like they are part of the solution.
Connecting regularly in councils will help you see what’s really going on with each family member. These check-ins are vital to everyone’s well-being. No family member should be left behind. Everyone in the family ought to be involved in helping to create proactive solutions and in setting their own goals. As families collaborate in making decisions, individuals will thrive, and the family will become more unified as a whole.
“The Beginner’s Guide to Family Councils”2 summarizes the four types of councils you can use. Check out the “Questions to ask.” They can help you talk about what’s most important and improve communication in your councils.
Some councils may be planned, while others could happen naturally. You have the opportunity to decide what works best for your family.
Family councils aren’t just about solving serious problems. What if your wife recently received a promotion at work? You could celebrate her accomplishment at your next family council. Maybe your family is developing a habit of expressing gratitude. Have everyone take turns expressing something they’re grateful for.
Make family councils fun, something everyone in the family looks forward to. If everyone, down to the littlest family member, knows they will be heard, seen, valued, and wanted, they’ll be glad to participate.
Consider having everyone put their cell phones and technology aside during councils. When you talk face-to-face with children without any distractions, they will feel valued. Praying with and for one another will invite the Spirit into your home. No one needs to solve problems alone. You’re setting the example to seek answers with God’s help when things get tough.
Schedule councils when your family will be free from distractions. If you already hold them, think of ways to improve. If you aren’t holding family councils yet, today might be the perfect day to give it a try. Start small, and watch as family councils develop into a joyful occasion where family members teach, learn from, and support one another.