The Secrets of Happy Families

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Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

What makes a family a happy family?

That’s a question worth asking don’t you think?
Can you drift back to your own childhood memories with warmth and joy?
Were your days happy and bright?
That’s not to say every day was carefree, but was it at least unstressed?

Would you be surprised that many children today wish their parents weren’t so stressed and tired?
Even very young children have stress radar.
We can’t hide it from them when we’re on the edge day after day.
Overbooked and understaffed.
Multitasking and distracted.
Fretful and anxious.

Not exactly the childhood memories we were hoping they’d have.

Today I want to share with you a book you might want to investigate.
I have it ordered, but the paperback doesn’t come out until Dec. 31, 2013.
You can currently get it on Kindle or in Hardback.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-Happy-Families-Mornings/dp/0061778737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384107444&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Secret+of+Happy+Families

I have not read the book, but I read a very thorough review of the book here:
http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/11/the-secrets-of-happy-families/

Here’s what I saw that I thought might be useful to you:
Three simple principles:
1. Adapt All the Time
2. Empower the Children
3. Tell Your Story

Here are three ideas to help you implement change and move from chaos to calm.

A regularly scheduled Family Meeting
This is a time when what’s working and what’s not working get discussed.
The focus is on specific behaviors, about how you function as a family.

Unearth your glitches and highlight your successes.
Strategize together.
Children need to feel like part of a team effort.
It helps them put their own behavior in the context of how it affects the family as a complete unit.
Teach them early ~No Man is an Island~
What we each do creates ripples in the Family Pond.

Dinner Conversation is the Most Misused Parenting Opportunity
Do your kids know about their grandparents, great-grandparents, or other distant relatives?
In the TED talk listed at the end of this post you’ll hear Bruce Feiler discuss how to do this and why it’s important.
He has suggestions on how to deal with the bad examples as well as the good.

As Christians we’ve been charged with teaching our kids about God.
God made it easy by supplying the content and the most opportune times.
Here’s where we can capitalize on our insider info and make our families stronger during Dinner Conversation.

The key is to combine the truth from the Bible with the story of how God used it in your life.
Talk about salvation by sharing a Bible verse and how God opened your eyes, or your Mom’s eyes to the wonderful work of Jesus in forgiving our sins.
Talk about forgiveness by sharing a verse and relating a story from your work life.
Have you received an unfair review from a manager, or has a co-worker who spoken ill of you to others?
Let your kids know that God gives us grace that we might forgive those that hurt us.
Your children will remember the lesson when they are hurt by others.
Show them that you actually use God’s word in your daily life.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Another core technique is the adaptation of Agile Development to Family Life.
Read this fascinating PDF from the parents of four who found themselves living in chaos.
The Dad is a Software engineer who brought home an idea from work and implemented it in their home life.

Agile Practices for Families: Iterating with Children and Parents
pluralsight-free.s3.amazonaws.com/david-starr/files/PID922221.pdf‎

Would you rather watch than read?
Check out this TEDtalk from Bruce Feiler the author of The Secrets of Happy Families.
It’s about 18 minutes long.
http://on.ted.com/Feiler

Have a great Sunday with your family.

8 Comments on “The Secrets of Happy Families

    • Thanks, but this photo is an old one! My son and his wife (far left) have had 5 kids since this was taken. Family photos really provide a visual chronicle of the history of our families.

  1. How nice to see your mom and dad and Carrie in this photo. What a nice picture.

  2. I’ve been meaning to contact your Mom and see about getting copies of some photos. I take them to Kinko’s or Costco and turn those old B&W pics into new ones with a digital version that can be edited in iPhoto.
    I don’t have a single picture of your family! Good reason for another trip to the old hometown.

  3. Excellent! As always, I appreciate your point of view and ability to communicates it with feeling and understanding!

    • I know it’s strange to think, but some kids don’t feel like they’re part of the Team in their own family. A regular meeting where everyone is free to share and respectfully listened to goes a long way toward establishing the feeling that ‘we’re all in this together’. Thanks again for the great Ice photos. Burrrrr but beautiful.

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