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Editor’s Note: The following is part two of a two-part series on “Counter-Culture Parenting.” To see part one, click here.
A strong family culture is built upon a unified family focus, a calm tone (that promotes love and safety), pre-planned skills for communication and problem solving, meetings to check up on how the family is doing and to promote strong relationships, and pre-established family standards.
Unified Family Focus
In a recent interview with Quinn Curtis, host of “The Joyful Living Podcast,” she confessed to me: “Nicholeen, I have been trying to go through your Parenting A House United book quickly so I have been skipping around some. I’ve started teaching the children the skills and we have had some of the meetings you suggest for families — but the home was still missing something. It wasn’t until I read the chapter at the beginning of the book on creating a family vision that it all came together for me. That’s what we were missing!”
No one would ever think of starting a business by signing a long-term lease on an office, purchasing office furniture, hiring employees and ramping up the marketing before the business had solidly determined what they were actually going to accomplish as a business. In other words, having a well thought-out business plan. Why would a family do any different?
Families, the most important and potentially influential institutions on the planet, are often the least organized and the most unprepared to succeed. This catastrophe can be avoided easily and without taking too much time.
Mother and father deliberately decide what the purpose of their family is and then they create a picture of their family some distance into the future. Then the children get the opportunity to add onto the story and take ownership of what kind of family they’re all working together to create.
A family vision helps the whole family stay invested and gives the family a real emotional experience that’s easy to compare to daily moments in life. Create a family vision.
The Power of Calm
Calmness is one of the greatest powers a person can tap into. It can literally transform the feeling in a family. Calmness isn’t just not getting mad — it’s much more.
Author William George Jordan said it perfectly when he said, “Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centered, self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power, ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.”
This “absolute confidence” comes from the parent that doesn’t take things personally, has security in the parental role, trusts in the goodness of others, has a desire to love and connect with family, and possesses the skill of self-government.
When a parent knows how to be calm, then the home environment is safe. Only then will the children welcome correction. It’s an environment where the parent is in a constant state of connection and relationship building — even during the correction of a child.
Finding the power to be calm is the hardest part of being self-governed and creating a strong family culture. Calmness eliminates the need for emotional manipulation of any kind and opens the door to honesty and trust in the family. It must be practiced daily. It’s an acquired skill for most people. The greatest men and women of the world become great by first conquering themselves.
Tone is a vital element of a strong home culture, and calmness is the strongest part of that tone.
Pre-planned Communication and Problem-Solving Skills
Many parenting programs and books are promoted by saying things like, “This one trick will change your parenting for good” or “This is the only parenting trick you need to know.” Why would a parent want to trick their children at all? Why is it necessary? Tricking someone is a sign that someone lacks integrity. Tricks are manipulations. Parenting is not war and should not be manipulative and sneaky. It should be predictable and honest.
Predictability in parenting decreases anxiety in children and parents. When it comes to communication, people don’t really like surprises. Children and parents are more joyful and connected in teaching moments and during times of problem solving when they know ahead of time what skills they’ll need to use to have a successful and understood interaction.
Keeping the skills to a minimum is important. If there are too many to remember or they’re too complicated, then the family will not be able to use them for the long term.
We teach parents five teaching styles to correct and teach their children. We also teach children four basic skills, which are: following instructions, accepting “no” answers and criticism, accepting consequences, and disagree appropriately. If a person knows the steps to these four skills, then 99 percent of their behavior problems will be solved.
The most successful families have pre-planned methods for communication, conflict resolution and getting their needs met. It’s never too late to decide upon an improved way to communicate with a loved one.
Checking Up on the Family and Meetings
Without strong relationships a family culture cannot be strong. To maintain strong family relationships, the family must do things as a group and discuss as a group. In addition to promoting regular family activity times, I teach families how to have a series of meetings weekly. These meetings help each family member take ownership of their family relationships and their own behaviors.
These planned, open-dialog times help the family check up on how they’re doing in their goal to accomplish their family vision. They can compare how the family feels to how they want it to feel and offer suggestions for change.
When I was a child my family held family meetings, but my parents didn’t know how to properly structure them, so we ended up having family fights instead. Structure, timing and tone are key elements to creating effective weekly family, couple and mentor meetings.
Understood Family Standards
A family who knows where they’re going and what kind of family they want to become also knows that they cannot live like the rest of mediocre society if they’re going to accomplish their family vision. Just because a new fashion or trend appears doesn’t mean it’s right for the family.
After a family has developed good communication skills and has a strong sense of family vision, then they’re ready to create their own personalized family standard. This document is essentially a list of dos and don’ts for the family. It discusses modesty standards, jewelry, foods and beverages, language, electronics, social boundaries and behavior, dating, Internet and media choices, and much more.
Once the family has unified on this list of standards, this list then serves as a standard of protection for the family and the family culture for the duration of the upbringing of the children. Plus, it will likely become generational as their children adopt the standards into their future families as well.
Standards offer safety and security. Everyone likes to know where the line is and what their stopping point is. These standards aren’t meant to micro-manage a family or children. Instead, their purpose is to promote more freedom and happiness by decreasing contention. When a family perceives what outside influences or trends might distract their family from their mission to become the kind of family they’re meant to be, then the family is free from future distractions and arguments. When there is no standard, the door is open for contention to creep in.
A happy family is a family who knows who they are and where they’re going. It’s a family that possesses the skills they need to realize their family goals.
If any of this sounds new or eye-opening to you, it’s only because we’ve been living in a counter cultural society for a couple of generations now. We haven’t been taught these five things, nor what a family culture is supposed to be. Everything I’ve shared here has been known by all the great parents of the past because it’s principle-based knowledge.
In these trying times, many parents are highly motivated more than ever and want the very best for their children. The very best has historically happened at home where a strong family culture has been established.
Learn more about how to strengthen your family and your relationships by visiting: teachingselfgovernment.com