Summer is a great time to review how your family is functioning as a team. Are you working together effectively to accomplish shared goals? Do you have an agreed upon mission that leads to a common vision? If your family is like many, its daily functioning isn’t a seamless process lacking strong emotions and challenges.
Play your appropriate role
We each serve different roles in our families. Mom and Dad hold the role of parent rather than friend. This is a role that holds promises key to the success of the children. What do you say are the most important aspects of being a parent? Children should be able to be kids – learning, exploring, breaking things, sleeping in, enjoying water ice and generally having lots of fun, especially in the summer. They will have plenty of time to be serious as they grow into responsible, mature adults with a solid foundation formed from healthy family relationships.
Give your children responsibilities commensurate with their age and maturity, and hold them accountable. Some day they will be out there in the world of work, so help them learn how to do their share, on time and up to your agreed upon standards. They may have a part-time job if they are in their teens or possibly chores around the home to earn an allowance. Both avenues provide children with street smarts and on the job training that will inure to their benefit in the future.
When they decided to have kids, parents took on a major responsibility that cannot be delegated, but they are spouses as well. Being a great spouse encompasses a different set of goals. If the family strives to become a high performance team, both parents are essential. Spouses must commit to remaining honorable, lovable and cherishable, just as they vowed to love, honor and cherish their mate. Your vows were reciprocal. Are you as lovable now as when you tied the knot?
As you consider how to create a stronger family unit, I recommend the following guidelines to healthier family relationships. I call them the Ten Commandments for a High Performance Family.
Be in partnership, not competition.
Remember that marriage and family is about partnership rather than competition. How can you help your partner rather than compete with her? How can he help you succeed in achieving your goals? We should never be in competition with our children or our spouses as it diminishes and damages these relationships. Children who are raised by parents who compete with them can suffer dramatically reduced self-confidence and self-esteem. Rather, demonstrate your virtues through your behavior.
Invest in your partner and loved ones, and learn from them.
Spend quality time with your family. Talk with one another, exercise, travel, or volunteer together. The list of possibilities is endless. We can learn from each other throughout these experiences. Not only can we learn valuable lessons from our spouses, we can learn from our children. Ask them for help with your phone or computer, or ask them to research and present alternatives for family vacations. If parents are open to what their children may teach them, they can learn a variety of skills and lessons from teamwork to listening skills and more. Bottom line – show up around them and listen.
Negotiate. Don’t demand.
Negotiation is key. Allow others to suggest other approaches or just plain say no. No is not a dirty word. No means you can count on me NOT doing what you asked. When someone declines a request it does not mean they are rejecting you or disrespecting you. Consider that this person is simply declining your specific request but may possibly be able to help in a slightly different way. Get into the habit of asking for counteroffers if your initial approach is unworkable. These offers can provide a great alternative to your original request and still meet your needs. After all, is it better for someone to say yes when they know they cannot comply, for fear of offending you? I say it is better for them, and you, if you allow them to be straight with you.
Provide an element of time when you request something of someone and vice versa.
Keeping promises helps build the foundation of trust required for strong family relationships. When you promise something to a family member, estimate how long it will take to fulfill this task and share this information with them. Be sure you review other commitments and deadlines in consideration of your timeline. If the other person is pleased with the timeframe, set your focus on accomplishing your commitment to them on that schedule.