We're All in This Together!

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A family is most productive functioning as a unit. Think of a family as a healthy potted plant. A plant is made up of small individual stems and branches that, as separate entities, appear fragile and unsteady. But growing and developing together, they gain strength and protection from one another. The plant and the family is healthier and grows more when everyone cooperates and shares the resources as well as environment. Their roots are intertwined and form a secure foundation that withstands being knocked over and occasionally neglected.

Our families are much the same. We need the strength and support of one another to make all of us stronger, more personally productive and more resilient to life's ups and downs. As parents, we can strengthen these family bonds by sharing our positive attitudes and work goals with our children. The children need to feel the safety of belonging to a unit or tribe, where all members are valued and their contributions appreciated.

Before we can expect positive results, we need to recognize why it's important for all members of the family to contribute time and skills toward household tasks. Our immediate intention is to help relieve excessive personal household responsibilities and to share the duties fairly. An overwhelming workload for one person or two becomes manageable when shared by three, four or more. But the goal should be greater than simply to divide the workload. It should be to learn life skills and assume personal responsibility.

We are on a family road trip

Regardless of prior experiences or the expectations your family now have that someone else will take out the garbage and feed the dog, don't give up. Make it into an adventure rather than drudgery. Soon good habits will become automatic action and provide more cooperation and less contention in your home.

Think of your goal to get your family to work together as the equivalent of a family road trip. You need to plan the most appropriate "route" for your family to follow. Expect to encounter some rocky roads here and there and maybe even a detour or two. It is important to have fun along the way, while remembering that "tomorrow is another day and we can start again."

You may keep asking yourself, "How much longer till we get there?" and be tempted to give up before personal responsibility becomes a habit with everyone involved.. But don't turn back, just keep moving forward. Determine that this time you will work as a family to reach your final "destination." You'll eventually have a family that works together to keep daily household life running smoothly. More importantly, you can also accomplish your greater goal of raising responsible, self-reliant children, who have the confidence of life skills well learned.

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including end of life. You are invited to visit our blog at www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you at www.ArtichokePress.com.

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