Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The family has the world’s most important job: the well-being and nurturing of children. Our society’s big forces seem intent on controlling our family rather than supporting it. How can the family marshal its strengths to get the big job done well? How can the family withstand the controlling community powers?

Job one for the family is child nurturing and marital harmony. This means responsibility for health, faith, learning, careers and primary relationships. Sounds nearly impossible. In fact there is no other candidate for this job.

Arrayed against the family are powerful community forces working to control the family. Business strives to sell its products. Governments want to influence our behaviour and our votes. The health care systems prescribe drugs. Schools tell us how to educate our kids. Churches tell us what is right and what is wrong. The banks tell us what to do with our money. The media want to shock us into buying what their advertisers sell.

Each of these big community systems has its own focus with huge resources to sell their ways.

How does the family cope in the face of such powerful influences? It faces two dimensions - the challenges inside and outside the family. The inside is always the tougher one.

The family needs to do what all the big forces do - find their unique mission focus. In sum, the family mission is wellness. Wellness has at least six key dimensions including fitness, learning, relationships, jobs and faith. The power base of each family is its blend of wellness dimensions.

The family needs to develop its inner strength before trying to deal with all the community forces exerting control. Family empowerment comes first from family wellness focus.

Next there is the challenge from all these controlling community forces. In our age, where does one find a power base? Happily the computer can become a major family wellness tool. How?

Knowledge is power. When the family organizes itself on its wellness base, it suddenly has power and leverage with big systems. The family can develop its own knowledge system on its own computer.

Then what can happen?

  • Families can use their new medical information to dialogue with doctors about the best medication.
  • Families can discuss with teachers their specific educational goals for their children.
  • Families can keep the only up-to-date family health and school records.
  • Families can set their own improvement goals for their relationships.
  • Families make clear for themselves their unique wellness mission.
  • Families can explain to clergy their spiritual needs.

The perils facing the families are clear. Now the family wellness ways must become equally clear – the computer is waiting to do that job. Tell us how your family is doing with this latest FAMILY CHALLENGE.

Friday, April 03, 2009


What is this all about? The proposition is this: Just as our words and language create human communication, so joining creates our families.

We are steadily learning that there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Now we are learning that this thing called “Joining” actually shapes our families.

To get at this let’s look at three levels of human communication: chatting, conversation and joining.

Most of us have lots of chat. We cover the world’s weather, national crises and Aunt Edna’s rheumatism. We can have a lot of chatting without much connection from all the talking. We fill our world with words either within the family, with others or from all the media. Shakespeare’s line is “Sound and fury signifying nothing”.

At the conversation level, things are different – talking, hearing and listening really happen. When the other person talks, I not only hear but I listen - which means I let his/her talk sink in. So at this level, in a conversation, there can be both hearing and listening - creating understanding between persons.

The claim here is that “joining” actually creates families. To better understand this, we had better see what “joining” really means. The word suggests one person actually joins the space of another. If I say to you “I’m having a lousy day”, you actually start to feel with me my lousy day. Even more importantly, if you respond with something like “I thought you looked a little down today”, that tells me you are with me.

What just happened here? One person left his own self concerns to move into the world of another. That is a very big deal. Why? Because two people forged a link. Relationships are built when two individuals join with each other by sharing what they are thinking and feeling - both ways.

Families are where our lives are intimately linked. The members are part of each other. Joining is how all this happens.