10 (plus one!) tips for strong families (Part 2)

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

For the first five tips, see part one of this blog post!

6) Accept What Others Can and Cannot Give

Accepting what others can and cannot give is tied to being the change agent. Strong family members accept that others are different and may not be able to give what they can give. Not everyone is a great communicator. Strong family members recognize that and check in. Brother is uncomfortable talking on the phone? Text him. Sister has trouble taking on too many tasks? Ask how you can help her. Of course we can point and say, “They should. . .” but why? Strong family members accept what others can or cannot give by adjusting their own behaviors to meet their other family members ½ (and sometimes ¾) of the way.

7) Don’t Dwell on the Past

Don’t dwell in the past, either. Stay in the present and allow your family members the same courtesy. Enough said.

8) Cheer on Other’s Success (no matter how small)

A healthy family I know sends out text messages to others in their family when something good happens. A family member I know shared his son’s success in making it to the Dean’s List his first semester of freshman year.  Immediately, the brother texted his nephew saying “Great job.” This not only allowed the family member to share their success, they paid it forward by acknowledging the next generation’s success. It is a quick pat on the back. Strong family members find a reason to say to each other “Good job!”

9) Realize No One Owes Them Anything

As there is a distinct difference in feeling an obligation vs. an opportunity with the family business, so too is the belief that you have been blessed with the ability to do for yourself.  Entitlement is the poison of families and businesses. No one, not even our parents, owe us a happy family business. We owe it to ourselves. It is when individuals feel fortunate to have a family business that they strive to make it better. Strong individuals focus on what they can give, instead of what they are owed.

 10) Reflect and Adjust

The strongest leaders are those who reflect on their decisions and make changes. The strongest family members are those who review their behaviors towards their own family and make adjustments as needed. Did they hurt someone? Then they apologize immediately. Did they reach out to say, “How are you doing today?”  Did they share in the joy of their nieces or nephews triumphs? Did they keep their mouths shut and open their ears? What did or didn’t they do, and what do they need to adjust?  Strong family members reflect each day on their own behaviors and change what needs to be changed.

11) Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Strong family members understand that any relationship needs continuous attention.  It is not a one-and-done kind of deal. A family I work with continually addresses the challenges they face.  They realize that years of negative behaviors cannot change overnight and their family is now fixed.  They look for incremental changes and face each day knowing that they are working towards something years from now in which they can look back on and smile.

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