For many years, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have encouraged families to hold family councils. President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that councils are a divine pattern used at every level of the Church, but “the most basic council of the Church is the family council.”
What exactly is a family council and why are they important? Better yet, no matter what our family may look like, how can we follow this guidance from prophets and apostles. Elder M. Russell Ballard, in a new journal designed to help you and your family have an effective family council, gives insights into the four different types of family councils.
Full Family Council
When you think of a family council you are likely thinking of what Elder Ballard calls a “full family council.” It is more formal and has all family members involved. It is a planned time for the family to come together and go over a specific agenda. Everyone is involved and the topics are meant to include everyone and create a safe atmosphere for people to share. Full family councils can be held as often as your needs or schedules dictate. Sundays are an especially good day to have a full family council.
“This council can meet to discuss family problems, work out finances, make plans, support and strengthen [each other], and pray for one another and for the family unit,” Elder Ballard said.
Executive Family Council
The executive family council is a time for a mother and father, or legal guardians, to come together and discuss their relationship with one another. It is also a time to “review each child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” In an executive family council, more sensitive issues can be discussed and the leaders of the family can prayerfully discuss solutions to problems.
Limited Family Council
A limited family council includes two parents and a child. If there is only one parent in the home, you may act alone or invite another trusted adult to join you. It is a time to build trust with your child and privately discuss issues that may be a concern now or later. It is especially a time to listen to serious concerns and challenges your child may have.
Elder Ballard says a limited family council helps parents and children make a “decision in advance about such things as what he or she will and will not do in the future.” Even if your child is not currently facing a major struggle, you can help solidify their desire and determination to choose the right before they face temptations and adverse influences.
One-on-One Family Council
The one-on-one family council “generally just happens” according to Elder Ballard. It encompasses those opportunities a parent has to bond with their child. It may be informal or it can also be planned. Both help the child feel special and loved. Taking the time out of your busy schedule to pay attention to a child in a stress-free environment can help them open up to you and make them feel safe. Whether you talk about their feelings or just have a fun time, a one-on-one family council reminds us of how Jesus Christ ministers to us.
The family council can provide a time during which family members can learn to understand and love one another. A simple record of these councils – kept in a book like this – may become a previous family history document in years to come. – Elder Ballard
Inspired by Elder M. Russell Ballard’s counsel for families to conduct regular family councils, this journal can be a helpful tool in making note of items discussed, keeping track of “next steps” and assignments, or simply recording humorous or sweet moments you’ll want to remember.
Included is an introduction by Elder Ballard outlining different types and formats for family councils as well as possible discussion topics, a list of suggestions for using the journal, guided journal pages with space for meeting minutes, and extra lined pages for additional notes.
Interspersed with inspirational quotes from Elder Ballard on the importance of families and family councils, this is the perfect way to keep families motivated. Copies are available here.