Once you have created an agenda for the Family Meeting and discussed it with your parents and their trusted adviser, you are ready to have the meeting. Although it seems like a very difficult and perhaps impossible task, I assure you that once the Family Meeting occurs, everyone in the family will be thankful. For many families, issues like finances and death have carefully been avoided at family gatherings for years. But it is on everyone’s mind. It’s like the big white elephant that sits in the middle of the room that everyone tries to avoid but cannot overlook.
Once communication has opened up, a burden has been lifted from the family. There is a lightness and freedom to discuss topics that were left unsaid for a long time. Future family gatherings will be less stressful because doubt has been removed and everyone knows where he or she stands. Your parents will experience much more comfort and less anxiety facing the problems of growing old knowing now that the family is working with them.
You may find that one or two family members will try to undermine the meeting, using the excuse that it will upset your parents or will uncover old issues that shouldn’t be discussed. But don’t let them deter you. Consider the alternative. Do you want to keep everyone in the dark until after your parents have passed away and then deal with everything in a crisis mode? Or do you want to discuss things rationally and clearly with your parents and siblings so that everyone is included? The choice is yours.
But if one of your siblings does not want to participate or warns you that an open conversation with your parents is dangerous, thank them for expressing their opinion, but do not be deterred from having the meeting. Encourage them to attend. Consider either audio or video recording the meeting and providing them with a copy. Get them involved in any way you can. You do not want them coming back to you five years after your parents have died and inferring that everything was done your way and they didn’t have any say. Don’t give them that weapon to use against you.