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"Building Attachment Solidarity: Strategies for Revisiting the Forgotten Family Meeting"


Parents often remark how they love to spend time with their children. They discuss the struggle to balance everyone’s needs and feel overwhelmed. Parents even lamented on how they rush home, rush to soccer, have dinner in the car, pack lunches, help with homework and then tuck the kids into bed. Parents describe feeling like they are running from task to task without really connecting with anyone. The daily demands leave little time for reflection and connection, which can feel empty and unfulfilling. Family relationships are compasses of our weakest link, yet many families don’t slow down to discuss concerns, needs, and connect by sharing what life is like in the moment for each family member. So life becomes about tasks and not about the family members.


When couples describe in therapy about not having time for each other therapeutic interventions such as Gottman’s Magic Five Hours and Sue Johnson’s A.R.E. conversations are utilized to guide building connection. Yet, regarding families, most folks discuss connection as being child centered, which is vital. Parents always need to reach emotionally to meet their child’s needs. Sometimes the idea of meeting our kids needs can get focused on signing up for many activities and not enough time to be a family. I wondered how i could help parents focus on being family centered to build attachment solidarity within the family to establish a sense of belonging, unity safety and fun. That’s when I began to discuss monthly "Family Meetings" to create balance and bonding between all family members. In the past families often ate dinner together and had discussions, many families don't eat supper together due to various scheduled activities and/or working late. So, opportunities for family connection times have been forgotten.


Family Systems:

Families are microcosms of the larger community, in that vein, having a voice, 

boundaries and shared goals improves the quality of life for family members and the family unit overall.

The value of shared time and activities fosters connection, and trust and a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. This allows children to develop skills needed to understand individual and community needs. In family meetings children learn to create and participate in solutions to shared goals.

 We know that when children have a sense of secure attachment, they have more confidence to learn and engage in new activities. Attachment solidarity allows children autonomy to complete tasks that become part of a group effort, experience, and shared memories.


How to set up a monthly meeting?


Set a date and time once a month, sit casually and Invite each member to discuss what joys and concerns ( roses and thorns), they are currently experiencing, and also ask if they they have any needs, what might help. Make the focus on listening, understanding. Consider each persons shares and discuss what the family wants and needs then create set goals and prioritize.

Pro tip- Remember that closeness, time and attention are solutions.

After the first meeting in subsequent meetings discuss the last month’s goal. What did each person understand, appreciate and learn? Validate member’s participation.


Each month create a new shared goal, and work on managing longer term goals. Define roles and tasks, younger children can pair with parents and older siblings to complete tasks.


Use computer, or pen and paper to list tasks for the next goal and set a date for the activity.

Goals can be set for managing challenges, bonding activities and learning.

Brining awareness to specific short term issues such as when children or parents have projects and how they family will cope with changes in the routine to help with shared loyalty. For example, knowing a sibling will need more support due to an ongoing illness, also create plans to ensure space for a sibling, even if time and attention is not always equal addressing the issues and creating space for the sibling can reduce the sense of aloneness.


Create plans for concerns.


This month one parent has travel, so family will create a plan to prepare. Family will mark calendar dates. And, discuss what will be different and create a list. Children are asked to share any questions or concerns about their parent being away from home. An intervention might be- Children are reassured they will be able to speak with their parent whose away, each night and share about their day, The parents shows the children on a map where the leaving parent will be staying while away. The parents expresses care and reassures children. A parent might give a child a photo of parent and child to look at when they miss their parent.


Create Social activities for bonding.


Plan a family party, a picnic, engage in social justice by volunteering at a nursing home, pick a family book to read and discuss, visit a farm, prepare for a holiday, create a budget and let children help purchase and plan, create a garden, Cook together, etc.

 Create Moments of helping.

Having children help with tasks such as folding socks while listening to fun music, or washing the car together can be moments to connect and share responsibilities, while learning new tasks. Volunteering as a family or even being involved in Scouting provides social justice and social skills learning.


Example of Family Goal and Plan


Month of June

 “Family Goal” Family Book selected is Velveteen Rabbit.  Parent and children will reserve book from library online. Each person can read the book, or parents and older children can read it to younger children. Parent and younger children will make a dessert for the “Book Discussion on Sunday. Each person will discuss what the book or draw a picture to describe the story.


Meeting once a month and getting the family engaged can build closeness and make simple things fun.




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