Problems Facing FamiliesBy
WeeklyInterview: What’s the biggest challenge families face?
Julie Smith: The biggest challenge families face – actually everyone faces it – is consistency. Or rather, a lack of consistency. Whether we want to spend more time with our children or lose a few pounds, we all the best of intentions. Yet, we don’t have the habits. in place to invite consistency. We often have default habits that allow complacency.
WI: What are the effects of this challenge?
JS: The effects on inconsistency in a family are a lack of connection and communication. When a child sees that mom or dad isn’t “saying what they do” or “doing what they say,” it can cause confusion and insecurity in a child. Without realizing it, the child begins to question the parents’ ability or authority. The parent-child relationship becomes disconnected and communication is diminished.
WI: What are the 3 things that must happen for a family to re-connect?
JS: Family members need to feel inspired, valued and accountable. Those three things lead to increased connection – that feeling of being bonded and aligned – as well as more effective communication.
WI: How do I create habits of consistency?
JS: There are seven habits of character everyone must have to support a consistent lifestyle – a lifestyle that inspires, values and supports. The habits of character include habits of responsibility, integrity, respect, perseverance, teamwork, service and gratitude.
WI: Do you have any suggestions on how I do those three things?
JS: The opportunities to develop habits of character are endless. And, to see them, you will want to get clear on your values, your life anchors and your vision. That can be a big task, though. So, to get started, I would encourage you to do three things each day: look for opportunities to find inspiration, value and support. The best way to find inspiration is to do something – anything! Take your family to the farmers market, go for a walk, play basketball. Seek new experiences as a together and on your own. Next, value each person’s contribution as an individual and a member of your family. Rather than offer profuse complements on the person, offer appreciation or acknowledgement of the act, such as “I noticed how you spent extra time explaining that game to your sister. Thanks.” Finally, offer accountability. What can you do to support this person (or even yourself) to move forward in your endeavors. The simplest way is to ask, “How can I support you?” And, then do what you can to support them.
WI: What’s the #1 (and #2) thing(s) I can do to start feeling connected today?
JS: Two of the most effective ways to start feeling connected are to ask (1) “who can I help today?”, and (2) “what am I grateful for?” These two questions are quite powerful in connecting you with yourself, your family, your community.
Julie Watson Smith, MHS, CC, is a Family Educator and Leadership Mentor dedicated to connecting families and empowering children to build communities of character that lead, not just the difference, but the effect we all want to see. Julie is the creator of Character Clubs and Character Coach.