12 Questions to Ask Yourself to Create Greater Culture, Collaboration… and Love at Home by Maria Dowd
Funny how we strive to create CULTURE and COLLABORATION with the outside
world, but often neglect to do the same at home.
Then we find ourselves feeling tired, voiceless, constrained, depleted, disrespected, under-appreciated, used and abused…leaving doors open for other messiness to creep into our family life.
Examine your individual and collective value systems, beliefs and role expectations. This requires self-reflection and honesty, then loving, safe, 2-way conversations. I emphasize 2-way, because it’s easy for the dominating personality to call the shots, while the more accommodating (or resigned one, who’s essentially “given up”) goes along with whatever is put on the table. It’s important that’s there’s balanced, non-judgmental space to safely communicate
what’s on your mind and heart.
Create verbal, and even written agreements of how each family member will BE and DO, along with the payoffs and rewards each family member will realize with kept promises, fulfilled tasks and harmonious handling of breakdowns and opportunities. Prior to her 16 th birthday, my daughter wanted a car. We signed a written agreement that she’d set aside X dollars from hersummer paycheck for the down payment.
Here are few questions to ponder:
- Do you see “problems” as opportunities? By changing the way you interpret things, it’s easier to take more things in stride, you’ll stress less and you’ll find them more manageable and fixable.
- Do you strive for quality interactions ? It’s very, very important to acknowledge how much you care about that person and the quality of the relationship, before delving into concerns about things that are not working in the relationship.
- Do you encourage leadership and responsible decision-making for even the youngest of family members? Even the youngest of children love to feel they are
contributors to their families and feel on top of the world when their contributions are celebrated. Happy cheers and claps mean everything! When it was time for my grandson to stop those middle-of-the-night treks to her bed, she’s charted his “stay-in-your-own-bed” progress and attached an reward (his long awaited Paw Patrol something or ‘other), while he earned stars. Within a short number of weeks…he was cured.
- Do you know and support one another dreams and aspirations? For the most part, we’re all put on the planet to fulfill a deep-seeded passion and need to serve humanity in some way – small or big. We’re designed that way at birth. Support one another’s desire to live that aspiration out loud – if even in tiny ways. It’s important to be mindful about the differences in the wiring of men and women (my goodness, this was one of my harder lessons learned). Women love being supported, mentored and are more open to suggestions. Men, on the other hand, while they value support and mentoring, they want to arrived there on their own accord, rather than having their (female) partner lead them there. This may not be true in all cases, but in my experience….
Do you celebrate everyone’s wins – large and small, in real time? Celebration is acknowledgment. Humans need acknowledgment on a regular basis. Higher grades (even an elevated grade from an F to D is cause for recognition and encouragement!).
It’s also important for parents to downplay their expectations, and simply be present for their children’s giftedness. An college student, and budding journalist will be “over the moon” for their A in Creative Writing,
it’s important that parents relish in their joy…despite your idea of having a daughter doctor is looking grimmer by the semester.
- Do you “self-check” before complaining? Take a step back and a deep breath in and out. Deliberately reframe (reword) what would have been a complaint into a loving request, adding how you’ll feel or the benefit of completing that request. Add a date or time, so that the person receiving the request understands what’s expected and when.
- Are you involved in one another’s lives in ways, and at levels that make a positive difference? Sometimes more than encouraging words are needed to create momentum for a loved one or colleague. What added value might you bring to the table to help move their dream or desire forward?
- Do you honor one another’s desires to have interests outside of your blended lives? One person’s hobby may be another person’s nightmare. While doing things
together is wonderful, it’s also perfectly fine to have your own interests. This is self-care, and imperative to our well-being and happiness.
Do you consciously choose love, peace, respect and harmony? You have to desire this for everyone, and not only for yourself. Expecting everyone to fall into your ideal, while being the crazy-maker is everyone else’s ideal…is a recipe for conflict – both internal , which is equally as critical as external conflict. Passive-aggressiveness, blaming, making wrong, invalidating someone’s feelings and needs are amongst the ways people who are not consciously caring show up in their lives.
- Do you strive for greater wisdom and personal transformation ? Self-awareness is cornerstone to happy, healthy relationships. Learning how to and honing these two character qualities of taking personal responsibility and holding SELF accountable is the
prescription for a peaceful, loving homelife. Continuous personal development (books, podcasts, seminars, articles [like this one], self-help groups) is vital. Rarely does one reach complete enlightenment. We’re all works-in-progress.
- Do you have family rituals, which includes family gatherings during holidays, but also extend beyond the traditional seasons? Ask your family members what they’d like to create. As we move within our social and work circles, we see others doing things that strike a chord (curiosity or even envy). Explore how to make it happen within your family. While a month-long trip to Europe might not be feasible, don’t hate…instead emulate. Create something that aligns with your reality.
For example, there may be places to visit within or bordering your home state that are interesting, fun, affordable…and within driving distance. Jump online, and explore possibilities. Closer to home rituals might include December or January Vision Boarding for the new year; or something as simple as a standing Thursday date night at the local coffee shop with your honey. Create rituals that foster family culture, collaboration, deeper love and appreciation.
- Do you eat together, at a table or picnic style, without television, tablets and cell phones…and talk? These conversations are vital for checking in, getting updates, sharing good stuff that’s happening, and learning about any challenges a family member may be having. And, when seating together, it’s easier to pick up on body language…and what’s not being said. Family meals can fortify the ties that bind, and keep families strong and well.