Friday, February 23, 2007


As much as we still idolize the family, it does some very dumb things. Like divorce.

At a wedding, the couple shows up as do the families and usually a clergyman. It is a warm and exciting event where vows are made and a family is born.

In our day, marriage is mainly a decision by the couple. In earlier days, family members were part of the decision, as is still the case in some cultures. The start of a family is a big deal. It involves money, real estate, careers, faith, culture as well as relationships. Now, the focus is on the relationship. The wider family doesn’t have much part in all the action until after the wedding.

So, here is one big thing that doesn’t make any sense. If the new family’s future depends on the wider family and all its features, why should the couple make solo decisions? The couple has the big part of the decision; but the families should too, if they are to have any part in the building of the new family.

What has all this to do with divorce? Everything! Whoever was part of the original decision should be part of any consideration of divorce.

Instead, we have the weird contrast between a wedding and a divorce. At the wedding, everybody shows up. At the divorce, the wife and her lawyer show up as does the husband and his lawyer.

Divorce American style, ignores the wisdom, the resources, and the opinions of the families and the church. Instead, the opinions of lawyers and courts prevail.

What do lawyers and courts know about the social, psychological and spiritual nature of marriage. Why is the combined wisdom of the families and the church ignored by a couple, at least one of whom is in a big rush?

So, is it any wonder that children are the prime victims of divorce? Their scars can last a lifetime. All because families aren’t doing their full job.

We can’t underestimate the power of love, particularly in its romantic phase. But, families are not without influence. There are the normal familial tugs. There is also lots of leverage, financial and otherwise. Families need to take a page from the past and have their say with the couple with intentions. Also, with couples without intentions.

Families may or may not have influence with the intendeds. Either way it comes down to onus. If the couple decides to go it alone, let them carry the onus for the results. If it is a cooperative family deal, everyone is fortunate because the onus is carried by all. Children do well in families that work together whatever the situation.

Let’s hear from you on this newest in THE FAMILY CHALLENGE, click on the comment button found below this blog.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Teens seem in a world of their own. They seem to want to think as they like, be with each other and do their own thing. Since most teens are like this, there must be a good reason. There is. They have to figure out what life is all about.

"What’s it all about" is life’s biggest challenge. It is THE spiritual question.

Their search is especially tough these days. Why? Because they face a world of distractions. They are in a tech world of phones, pods, CD’s DVD’s and computers. They are in a world that prides itself in diversity. Life is a multiple choice exam. They live in a world of rush and fast change. They are in a world where everything goes to the extreme. They are in a world of instant mental, emotional and physical satisfactions.

How in the world can they answer their big question? To make things tougher, their world has become a spiritual circus. The old classical answers have lost their attraction. This challenge gets even worse if their family hasn’t come up with answers to the big question. They don’t have guides which they want and don’t want at the same time.

So, how does he choose?

Let’s suppose that someone offers the following:

  • Growth into a strong and confident person
  • Belong to a group that cares for him no matter what
  • Get guidance whenever he needs it
  • Freedom from guilt and depression
  • New satisfaction by helping others
  • Belief that good is stronger than bad and love stronger than hate

What would that teen do with that offer? It is probably right under his nose and available if he wants to listen. What should he do? Decide on the package he wants. Then go shopping till he finds it. The safest shopping is with folks he respects and trusts.

Join in on our discussion of THE FAMILY CHALLENGE by clicking on the comment button found below this blog.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Many of us have been raised with the belief that punishment comes with being bad. Unfortunately, the problem with punishment is that it also is bad. Do two bads make a good?

Fortunately, we are gradually replacing punishment. In most cases punishment didn’t cure the problem and sometimes made it worse. So what do we have instead of punishment?

Unfortunately, as punishment went out of style, we’ve had a gap before its replacement appeared. We are paying a big price for the gap. Children are being raised without the limits they need. In fact, they are being raised without experiencing the normal limits of our society.

The result of the gap is that we have many upset children. They are upset because their misbehavior seems to them to be accepted. So they live in a world with uncertain limits. That is very scary because in such a world, nobody is safe. Children need security as well as love. Take one away and the child becomes disturbed. The child, lacking clear limits, will act up and up until someone makes him safe.

Slowly, however, punishment’s replacement is arriving. It’s called consequences. It is good because it represents the reality of our world. It is good because it enables learning from one’s mistakes. The encouraging fact of our history is that we learn mainly from our mistakes.

So what are consequences all about? Simply, every thought, word or deed has a consequence. For example:

A child, rushing into the room, knocks over and breaks a vase. While he didn’t intend to do it, he still broke the vase. If we have left punishment behind, we don’t need guilt, shame or the blame game. So what is left?

The vase needs to be replaced. The vase costs. Depending on the age of the child, he or she shares in the cost. That way, the child is helped to learn one of life’s most important lessons - every thought, word and deed has consequences.

So we, the adults, must shift gears from punishment to consequences. Tough on us because we were raised on the old style. Now, we must learn constructive options where children learn responsibility by the experience of consequences. A lesson for us all.

"Dear, the vase cost $23.00. What do you think is your fair share?"

Another lesson to be learnt in THE FAMILY CHALLENGE. Let’s hear from you, to add your views simply click on the comment field found below this blog.