by: Aaron Shaner, LAMFT, LAPC
In this final installment of Building Strong Families (get Part 1 or Part 2), the family traits of Teamwork, Teaching, and Training focus on how our interacts with the world outside the family. If you will recall, this list started with the traits of a healthy individual. These qualities (True and Tenacious, Tranquility, Transparency, and Tenderness) are ones which each person works on inside themselves. The second group of traits in this list are qualities that define a families values and environment (Time, Talk, Touch, Tributes and Tickles). In this installment, we will talk about the final subset of this list which builds on the first two. This list builds in the following way: healthy individuals are the foundation for a healthy home, which in turn produces healthy community members. Let’s take a look at this final group of family best practices.
Life is not intended to be lived alone. Everyday challenges as well as monumental ones are made easier when we have the collective strength of those around us. Not all challenges are threatening however, facing healthy challenges such as setting worthy goals develops a sense of mastery in our families. A sense of mastery or a belief that “I can do it,” is important to healthy psychological development. When we set healthy goals it equips our families with the belief that together we can be successful in the future. Families who share adventures and learn new skills together are more resilient when the rain comes.
Teaching is about preparing our families to be open to new information and and passing on our interests and passions to the next generation. Teaching is as much about spending time with your family as it is about learning new skills. Teaching is the principle that drives you to help your kids explore the outside world and have new knowledge influence who they are. Instilling life-long learning prepares them for the future.
Everyday we have moments that can be used to train our families about what we value and how to handle challenges. Author and researcher Brené Brown says that, “the most powerful teaching moments are one’s where you screw up.” It’s one thing to tell your kids about lessons you have learned but it is more powerful if they can watch the process. Training, as opposed to teaching, is about who they are on the inside. As a blacksmith practices his craft, there is metal on metal contact, heath, quick temperature changes, pounding and often sparks.
If you have been following this series you may have noticed that each sub-group of this list builds on the previous one. You may have also noticed that the list cycles back on itself. Healthy individuals are needed to have healthy families, healthy families create healthy communities, and in turn healthy communities foster healthy individuals. Said differently, the first trait of True and Tenacious in this list is about who we are and also one of the values we want to train our children to have. As adults when we become the people we want our children to be we encourage them to be a healthy individual too.
If you’re wondering where to start applying these concepts for you and your family, you are not alone. I have been encouraged by the growing tide of families who want to turn things around and make positive changes. To start, begin with the things that only you can control. Recognizing that somethings are out of your control will help you from feeling overwhelmed and allow others in your family to take responsibility for their own change. the second step to emphasize is– go slow. Change takes time, resist the temptation to get discouraged if it is not happening at the pace you would like. The bottom line with making these changes is that it all starts with you. By addressing your own areas for improvement you are taking the first step towards being True/Tenacious.