University of Illinois Extension

Involvement Is Key to Making Family Decisions

Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator

As you care for your grandchildren, you may be faced with problems or choices that require the family to make a decision. It may be tempting to just make the decision yourself, but it is important to include everyone who is affected by the decision. Family members will be more likely to accept a decision if they feel that they had a part in the process, or they feel some ownership to the choice that is made.

When a decision needs to be made, follow some basic steps in the decision making process. The first step is to state the problem that needs to be solved or why you need to make a decision. Examples might be planning a weekend activity, deciding which after-school activities your grandchild will do, or setting household rules.

Once you have stated the problem, begin the process of making the decision. Ask all family members involved to brainstorm possible solutions. Listen to everyone's suggestions and accept all input. Don't allow any negative statements such as, "That's a stupid idea!" You will evaluate the suggestions in the next step.

Consider all the suggestions that have been made. Discuss all the positives and negatives of each idea. One way to consider a suggestion is to ask these three questions:

  1. What is the best possible outcome of this solution?
  2. What is the worst possible outcome of this solution?
  3. What is the most likely outcome?

Ask if the family could accept the outcomes. If the best possible outcome would be really great and the worst possible outcome wouldn't be too bad, maybe this is a solution you can accept. If the worst outcome is something you could not accept under any circumstance, perhaps this solution is not a good choice.

After evaluating all the choices, come to a decision as to which solution will be most satisfactory for all involved. Make a plan to put the solution into action for a specific period of time. At the end of that time, be sure to come back together as a family and evaluate the decision you made. Is it working or do you need to take a look at other options? If it is working, plan to re-evaluate at a future time. If it is not going as well as you thought it would, start the process again and keep trying solutions and evaluating until you find the choice that works for your family.