Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

I was thinking more about the three components I see underlying parenting and homeschooling:  inner work and personal development on the part of the parent, a religious and spiritual life, and a healthy family culture.  Obviously each one of these influences the others, but I want to spend some time over the next eight days to elucidate eight components that I feel make up a healthy family culture.  You can take what components resonate with you, and take away or add others of your own.  At any rate, I think this is a good topic to get thinking about as we head into the New Year with a Christmas mood, a mood of kindness, courtesy, and (in the spirit of the Epiphany Season of the church),  of being a visionary for our family life.

These are the eight components that I have chosen to make up family culture:

Rhythm – This is an outward gesture  made up of some of the inner attitudes towards some of the components below.  Hopefully it reflects the values your family holds toward sleep, rest, mealtimes, work, play, etc.  This is an area that gets a lot of play on different blogs,  and sometimes much bashing as in, “I don’t need a rhythm!”  I think rhythm actually is important, it has been an important part of human culture and being human since the beginning of time.  More about this in another post.

Attitudes toward sleeping/rest – Is your home unhurried enough to be conducive to rest, to early bedtimes, to sleeping in later should the children need it?  Do you notice your sleep and rest patterns changing with the seasons?

Attitude toward mealtimes – Is there time for you to sit down together as a family for meals?  Do you cook?  How many times a week are you eating out or getting fast food?  What is your attitude toward nutrition and food?

Attitude toward Work and Play – All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but what I see today are many children who are responsible for nothing.  A long time ago, I talked about “what would happen in your house if your children were gone?  what wouldn’t get done?”  If the answer is that nothing would happen if the children were gone, and your children are older, then your children do not have enough responsibility.  Chores are a great stomping ground to learn how to work together as a team.

The other common phenomenon is children who cannot do much self-directed play and need you present for every bit of their play, even at older ages.  The days of neighborhood groups of children getting together and playing every afternoon in games where adults are not present has gone by the wayside in many places in the U.S. due to aftercare, classes and sports, and the play life of the child has suffered for it.

Attitude of Gratitude – With gratitude comes humility, kindness and courtesy and making a place where the family members support each other in love.

Intimacy of Adults in the Household/State of Marriage or Partnership – A solid marriage or partnership is the foundation of the household; without this nothing really works well.  Our upcoming book study, “ The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work:  A Practical Guide From The Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” by John Gottman and Nan Silver is going to take a much closer look at this.

How We Deal With  And View Conflict – How you deal with conflict, with feeling frustrated and angry, becomes the model for how our children deal with it.  How is conflict seen in your home? Is conflict just glossed over so no one fights?  Is it an all-out war?  How do you communicate in conflict, both with the other adults in the house and your children?

View of Children, Childhood and Discipline – How do you view children: as miniature adults with less experience who just need to be filled up, or do you view children as coming into development slowly and that certain things are appropriate at certain stages?  How do you view discipline – as guidance, as leading your children into the adults they are going to become, or as a place to lay down the law or as a place to lay down no laws since children are children?  What is your view of authority in parenting and what picture does that conjure up?

I can’t wait to start thinking about these areas, can you?  These are the foundation of life along with religion and inner development, and together all of this forms the basis that homeschooling can be super imposed upon.  Without examining these foundational levels, homeschooling and parenting is that much harder.

Many blessings,

22 thoughts on “Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. Exciting post and great food for thought. I look forward into delving into each one of these–especially the ones towards the end.

  2. I think the last three are especially important to me because I was a Waldorf teacher for seven years before I got married and had children. My husband had no Waldorf background, so raising children with him has had its challenges. As our children grow older, we have needed to step back and re-assess things such as discipline. But this has required us first of all to focus on our marriage and our communication styles (or lack of them) so that we could even discuss discipline in any depth, because of course this brings up our past relationships with our parents, and all of the feelings involved therein. We are currently a work in progress–working on our marriage so that we can begin to parent on the same page. We committed to doing a book study together every evening. We just began this a few weeks ago. We began with, “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. So far we are making progress. We plan on reading “Respectful Parenting, Respectful Kids” after this. I think a Waldorf child development book would be good after that. Do yo have any suggestions for someone like my husband who is not much familiar with Steiner’s terminology?

    • Monique – Thank you for being here and for sharing your experiences and story. I love hearing about what you are doing. As far as your question, I was thinking of Jack Petrash’s work –are you familiar with him? I think he can be accessible for fathers. What about Eugene Schwartz?

      Will be thinking of you as we move along in our study,

  3. Carrie, thank you for this list, and your other posts in the last few months. I haven’t commented, but I’ve starred quite a number of them that I’ve found inspiring. I’d say that, for the most part, these are the core areas of focus in our home.

    I do want to comment on the bullet point about relationships, though. I know we’ve talked about this before, and you’ve been so thoughtful to address the fact that not all households have two adults. I think it can be disheartening for single parents to read that “nothing really works well” without a solid partnership in the home. I’m assuming that you mean that when there are two adults, if they don’t have a solid relationship, then things are fractured. I’d completely agree with this. But there are those of us who don’t have solid relationships because there just isn’t another adult around. With many millions of single parent households just in the US alone, I think we should definitely believe in the possibility of a healthy single-parent home and help each other achieve that. I refuse to believe that my children are doomed just because their father doesn’t live here.

    Thanks again for the post, and I don’t mean to offend. I love your blog. I know I’m not your only single parent reader, and again, I do know that you’ve worked hard in many posts to acknowledge single parents.

    Happy New Year!


    • Thank you Jaimie -YEs, you have read my blog long enough to know how I think…I was thinking EXACTLY of the two person household where there is stress and strife and it just causes other things to not go as well. And, you also probably know or remember that I was raised in an extended family situation and not with a mother and father, so I have the greatest respect for single family households. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify. 🙂

      Thanks, Jaimie and Happy New Year to you.

  4. Great post Carrie!
    I am looking forward to the book study of “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide From The Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” by John Gottman and Nan Silver.
    I think working on ones marital relationship a bit more in depth is always good!

    Just today I received this beautiful blog post in my inbox, …too nice not to share.
    If you want to turn off the music on the blog, I normally do, the player is at the top right hand corner of the post (just above the posting date).


  5. Excellent food for thought. Makes me feel more responsible for my actions and behaviour toward my child, makes me feel guilty for all the times I have lost ‘it’ just when I thought I had become a better mother! So much inner work to do. Makes it even more stressful with a troubling marriage – do not want to stay, yet, do not have the courage to leave!!!
    Am grateful for your blog. They are God sent. Keeps reminding me to treat my sensitive and perceptive son well. Lots of love to you and all mothers.

    • Sujata,
      My thoughts and prayers are with you. We can all be the people we want to be, the people we are called to be, even in difficult circumstances. We all mess up, make mistakes, don’t handle things the right way…but we keep striving.

      Many blessings,

  6. I love this post. I love your whole site. I was wondering if you could point in in a direction of good books to read about spiritual development in a home or in a person’s life in general. I am considering going back to graduate school in Human Development with an emphasis in spiritual development. But you blog is so different than the prevailing family advice I thought you might have so knowledge of a direction to search.

    • Jessica – Thank you so much for being here and for writing to me!
      Is there is a particular religious or philosophical slant you have in mind when you say spiritual development of the child? I have Christian and Waldorf sources in mind, but I am not sure that is what you are looking for….

      Many blessings,

    • Jessica,
      I was thinking of works by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard (“Offering The Gospel To Children”) and Gertrud Mueller Nelson (“To Dance With God”)…From the perspective of Rudolf Steiner, perhaps “Soul Education” or “Phases of Childhood: Growing in Body, Soul and Spirit” by Bernard Cj Lievegoed.

      Those may be good starting points…
      Many blessings,

  7. Carrie I would love to hear what you do with your kids regarding chores, and what chores you think are appropriate for a six year old? I searched for chores in your blog posts but there were a lot of results and some of them are just a mention, I couldn’t find anything really concrete… appreciate any input you have to offer. 😉 I think I would fall into the category of “if the kids were gone, nothing would be different” in terms of chores getting done… they come with me, but I really do most things myself.

    • Hi Becca! I hate to tell you to hold that thought,but hold that thought! I will be going through chores soon as part of the family culture series!

      Many blessings,

  8. Hello Carrie,

    I just discovered the website of Jeff Tunkey, a very talented P.E. Waldorf school teacher (I have known him for many years, but I didn’t know he had a website). It’s all about movement in childhood. I thought you especially might like it. Here it is.

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