In today’s face paced technological world creating and maintaining a family that meets and exceeds long term structure and happiness is truly a challenge. The rules are constantly changing all of the time, spank your kids, don’t; time outs is good for kids, now it’s not.
First develop a family mission statement. What does a successful family structure look like to your family? This may seem warm and fuzzy, but your family will need a focus that the entire family believes in. The development of this mission is best done by the entire family, so that everyone feels a part of the focus. It is also wise to go somewhere outside the house to work on it, say a vacation spot or even a park. Once the mission statement has been determined, print it and hang it. Place it in a spot that has family interaction, maybe a kitchen or family room.
Second develop times and safe places where families can interact and develop family strategies. This can happen at the dinner table, in the family room or even in the family car during a trip. Be creative about having process meetings for good issues as well as bad. This is a time that the family deals with changes in the family dynamic. This is a time when the family works together to deal with the unexpected things in a focused expected way. The family is moving for example, how this will affect everyone, what process changes will have to be determined. How do you remove the fear out of change and teach your children to develop plans and communication to deal with any issue?
Third the family should work to allow each member of the family to have opportunities to work through issues in their lives through family processes. Each member of the family should have the ability to bring issues to the group. For example if a teenager is getting ready to go through semester finals and would like to change the family process for privacy, the family meetings are a good time to invoke changes in the family structure. Using structure to create opportunities for flexibility will help keep family dynamics from getting out of control. It will be a great tool for parents to say, do you want to work through a strategy and bring it to the next family meeting? This will create problem solving techniques in your children and help with their future business lives.
Fourth, the family should keep current rules and regulations documented and updated. As household chores, schedule, curfews, and rules change; someone should be designated to update the information. Many of the current computer programs are set up for groups with calendars; task list, email addresses and information sharing that would work well for allowing the family to understand the current dynamics.
Fifth, the family dynamic should set goals and create expectations for the family strategic outcomes. For example determining what things the family needs to do to meet or exceed the family goals. Education, charity, growth, community involvement, sports, and home maintenance are areas where goals should be set and metrics measured on how the family is working toward the goals to be measured. This is setting clear expectations so that the family knows what is expected and why.
All of these processes are done by the most effective families even if they aren’t structured and presented in this format. A family that can work within the framework to grow and achieve mutual goals keeps the family dynamic healthy during hard times and prospering during the good times.