Happy families don't just happen. They require work and, if you're like me, techniques, advice and motivation which are all found in The Secrets of Happy Families. My family is currently undergoing a well planned overhaul, thanks to Bruce Feiler.
I'm beyond excited to tell you about this book. It's filled with NEW, easy techniques and guidelines for every family. Many you've never even heard of before! Take a peek at what's inside:
Introduction: Why We Need New Thinking for Families
Adapt All The Time
1. The Agile Family Manifesto: A Twenty-First-Cantury Plan to Reduce Chaos and Increase Happiness
2. The Right Way to Have Family Dinner: Why What You Talk About Is More Important Than What You Eat
3. Branding Your Family: The Power of a Family Mission Statement
Talk. A Lot
4. Fight Smart: The Harvard Handbook for Resolving Conflict
5. The Buck Starts Here: The Warren Buffet Guide to Setting an Allowance
6. Talk About the Marshmallows: How to Have Difficult Conversations
7. Lessons from the Sex Mom: What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex (but should have)
8. What's Love Got to Do With It: The Simple Test That Saved Millions of Families
9. The Care and Feeding of Grandparents: How To Avoid Throwing Granny From the Train
10. The Right Stuff: How Rearranging Your Furniture Can Improve Your Family
Go Out and Play
11. The Family Vacation Checklist: How To Make Travel More Fun
12. Shut Up and Cheer!: What Successful Coaches Know About Successful Families
13. Give War a Chance: The Green Beret Guide to the Perfect Family Reunion
AND after all this amazing information you'll find ... THE HAPPY FAMILIES TOOLKIT! (I took TONS of notes in the first 3 chapters and then stumbled upon this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! )
The Happy Families Toolkit is a "cheat sheet" of sorts. It summarizes the wealth of information in The Secrets of Happy Families. Bruce Feiler created it for busy parents. Absolute genius and much easier to read than my notes!:)
Each and every chapter is a breath of fresh air. No old fashioned ideas or stale thoughts printed in this book! I particularly enjoyed Part 1 as it's designed to bring your family together. I've been using ideas galore this week and no one is the wiser, although my husband is in on the secrets.:) Here's a picture of our Morning List poster proudly displayed in my kitchen...
The Morning List is a tool to get things accomplished. Yes, I'm sure you've heard of to-do lists, but the Morning List doesn't involve nagging and yelling. We've been there and done that at my house, sad to say. The Morning List items are checked by. your. children. This helps teach executive skills and allows them a role in their own upbringing. And, best of all, IT WORKS. Our mornings ran SO much smoother last week! The girls chores and school work were done early and everyone was happier. Success! And this leads to the Family Meeting...
Our first Family Meeting will be this Sunday. During that 20 minute period we'll start with a game and then discuss 3 questions:
1. What went well in our family this week? (We'll cover The Morning List among other things.)
2. What didn't go well?
3. What will we agree to work on in the week ahead?
Then we'll discuss rewards/consequences for each item. Yes, the children get a say! It's a family, after all, and everyone needs to be heard.:)
It's going to be a special time to talk without judgement and work toward a healthier family. I can't wait!
One other section that really inspired me was The Right Way to Have Family Dinner. I'll give you a hint, it doesn't have to be dinner! It can be breakfast, lunch, or even dessert time. Go ahead and break the rules! And, this is SO important, dinner time is NOT about the food, it's about the FAMILY. Yes, the family! Bruce Feiler teaches us "games" to play during mealtime to enrich your family's experience. Some activities are done to learn more about your family- your relatives, history, etc. "Psychologists at Emory discovered that the more children know about their family's story, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, the more successfully they believe their family functions." How about an Autobiography Night or Word game Night? I've already got them on my schedule for Tuesday and Thursday Dessert Nights.;)
Lessons from the Sex Mom was a bit risqué for my taste. I'd be incredibly angry if a neighborhood mother told my grade schooler (or my teen) about sex. The "sex mom" also chats with teens about sexual relations while in the car, corners girls about types of sex after dinner and places condoms on the counter? No, thank you! It's wonderful to have a healthy relationship with your kids and educating them about relationships and intercourse is part of that. I believe the point was to encourage parents to be honest with their children, which is wonderful, but hearing about the "sex mom" made me uncomfortable.
I really enjoyed reading The Secrets of Happy Families. I have so many new ideas that I can't wait to incorporate into my family's life. Being a parent can be exhausting and it's unbelievably encouraging to have new tools to make life easier. Highly recommend!