I grew up in a sports-loving family (even though I was not a great athlete myself!). Despite my immersion in the world of sports and “sports lingo”, it took me quite awhile to see how to see how building a family does have similarities to building a team. Sometimes in a family, especially with juggling careers, financial concerns, everything being new and each phase of childhood development being new and different with no road map, it could just seem like putting out one fire after another or just reacting to one thing after another rather than having the skill to really build a vision, build a family, build a peaceable team.
We often hear a lot about being a mindful parent or being a “conscious” parent. To me that means attempting to be proactive, not reactive. However, I think there is more to family life than that. Family life is about relationships. It is about building something more wonderful than you could have on your own. And yes, in a way, it is about succession of the team as your children grow up and go out into the world and make choices completely independently.
Shared values lead to two things: a shared vision and also boundaries that support your values. What does a “X” family member embrace? What are the values of the family? For example, if the value is to stay home and be home more as a family, then the boundary might be a child can play one season of sports per school year (ie, just fall sports; not fall, winter, and spring!) Or that might mean summers are slow, and not full of camps because you value being a family together. I have written before about the power of a family mission statement. I urge you, and all the adults in your house (especially if that includes extended generations) to talk about what that means. What are the values and the vision? Some families are lucky enough to really have a clear sense of this without a lot of discernment or fuss, but other families are starting at ground zero and really have to work at it as a process. The process is so valuable!
We all protect each other. We calm each other with love, we encourage each other, we play for the same team so it is never parent against child or child pitting parent against parent. We are kind, we protect each other in that our home is a haven, we use kind and gentle words and most of all, when mistakes happen, we forgive each other AND we make restitution. We are all learning and not one of us is perfect.
We trust each other. In small children, this idea of trust begins with the fundamentals of attachment – emotional attachment, physical attachment. You can see organizations such as La Leche League League or Attachment Parenting International for more information about how to do this with infants and beyond. Boundaries, limits with love, are also a form of attachment because they provide respect for a child’s developmental age and they give security and confidence to a child. People often wonder about attachment in teenagers. For teenagers, attachment means being available and present, and trusting and knowing when to push and not push, and how to embrace differences in a livable way . It also means still setting appropriate boundaries and making sure you know the differences between why a 14 year old is different than a 17 year old. It also means letting older children and teens make mistakes and not rescuing, not hovering.
Finally, embracing our differences as people makes a family successful. In my family, there are introverts and extroverts. There are huge age differences as well. There are common points we all share, and sometimes there are viewpoints we don’t share. Family meetings can be a great place to bring some of that out.
Share with me how you build your family as a team.