4 MEETINGS EVERY FAMILY OUGHT TO HAVE

An unexpected crisis draws families together–it’s almost inevitable. But families should also meet regularly to discuss important topics, both fun and serious. These meetings give each family member the opportunity to contribute and be invested in outcomes that consider everyone’s needs. They make your family stronger, happier, and more harmonious. They make it second nature to come together in crisis, as well as help avoid stress in more mundane matters. Here are four meetings your family should regularly have.

Gift Giving Guidelines. Is excessive gift giving causing strain from the desire to reciprocate? Meet on this topic with extended family members. The goal is to reduce the tsunami of gifts that come to your children on birthdays and holidays. Try meeting on this at the end of a visit. Suggest that you all put a limit on the value of gifts you exchange, or have each family member give only one gift to only one other family member. While you can’t force anyone to gift the way you’d like, you can set some limits that will keep things under control. Here are some other strategies to keep gift giving gracious, instead of stressful.

Family Safety. A simple conversation can save lives, so make safety issues a regular topic of discussion. Review what to do in case of a fire and agree on a place to meet outside. Decide what to do if separated during a storm, flood, or other natural disaster, and make sure all family members agree on the plan. Remind family members of home safety hazards, such as watching videos in the tub while charging your phone. Kids have more access than ever to questionable pranks they see online, so discuss the dangers these pranks can pose. Empower older kids with a plan of action if they’re home alone and accidentally start a fire, and what to do if someone has a medical emergency. Post emergency numbers in the kitchen, put them on all phones, and touch base with neighbors you could call in an emergency. Because emergencies can still happen while away from home, it’s important for everyone in the family to memorize each other’s phone numbers. Remind kids if something happens when you’re not around, they must listen to a police officer or other first responder, teacher, or other adult in charge. Ask extended family members for backup contacts if you can’t reach them. By having these discussions, you’ll be better prepared if disaster strikes.

Family Vacations. Meeting as a family to decide on a vacation is a great way to keep everyone happy. Share ideas about what a vacation means to each person, and what they think were their best vacations. Keep the focus away from where they went, but instead on how they felt there. Let everyone share the one thing they’d really like to do, then see what vacation choices could satisfy all family members. If nothing satisfies all, have each person make a list, and keep searching for the trip that checks a box for everyone. When taking a vacation with extended family members, be honest and up front about sharing your budget limit, keep in regular contact as plans are made, and be ready to compromise.

Your Parents’ Future. Discussing the future with aging parents can be stressful, but the earlier you know their desires, the better you can plan to fulfill them. Meet with your parents to make sure they’re set for the future. Meetings can be by texts, emails, or online video conferences. First meet with siblings, so you’re together on questions and issues. With Mom and Dad, check that they’ve written a will, appointed an executor, and created an advance healthcare directive (living will). Find out where they keep important documents, and get contacts for their lawyer and financial person. See if there are any health or safety concerns, and how they plan to cover costs if they need care later on. If parents need assistance now, meet with siblings to coordinate caretaking support. By approaching these topics and discussing personal considerations and desires before choices become urgent, you and your family will save a lot of headaches and heartaches.

I also posted about TRUST AGREEMENTS and HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES – two topics that are intertwined in Real Estate.  If you have any questions please reach out to The Caton Team and the appropriate professionals.

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