Helping families be happy
JUN, 2015

Happy Father's Day

"A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be." --Frank A. Clark

"I hope I am remembered by my children as a good father." --Orson Scott Card

Mother's Day

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln

 “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” —Theodore Hesburgh

The Best Kind of Education

"You gain education by reading the fine print, and experience by not reading it." —Anonymous.
FEB, 2015

Leaving the Nest

Our third son is leaving home. While we have nine children and the nightly noise is rock-concert loud, having yet another child leave is always bittersweet. This son is off to Uruguay for two years to serve a church mission. His older brothers are in the Netherlands serving a mission and in the Army serving his country. The remaining six children stay behind, excited and confused to see their family spread across the world. 

Oscar Wilde said that a girl is destined to become her mother and that is her curse; a boy isn't and that is his. But what about boys and their fathers? I watch my boys grow and I listen to them talk and I watch them interact with other people and I can see myself. They are as much nurture as they are nature. What does this teach me? 

It teaches me that my role as a father is critical to how my sons interact with the world, that my influence shapes them in ways I don't always see immediately or fully understand. I am my sons and they are me. 

NOV, 2014

The Destiny of a Chicken Farmer

My son was disappointed in his recent standardized test results. His disappointed came from comparing himself to his brothers, to his friends, to national averages, and to what he perceived were his mother's and my expectations of him. He said that he felt intelligent and capable, but why did tests periodically challenge his perception of who he was?
I looked at him and patiently shared a significant list of attributes that he has developed--work ethic, honesty, study habits, morality, kindness, curiosity, music, art . . . and more. I counseled him that we like to group people into categories and homogenize things rather than celebrate diversity and the uniqueness we each embody. We like to benchmark people against standardized and generally accepted statistics. And in so doing, as a society, we can smother the originality that each person--one in 7.2 billion people--brings to the world. 
A test does not and should not define one's contribution or ability. It is a moment in time and provides feedback on a number of variables. We need to remember that regardless of what statistics say, we are unique and can be a positive contribution regardless of any test result.
My high school gave me a series of tests that suggested I should be a chicken farmer. Nothing against chicken farmers, but I'm glad I took the results, walked up to my school counselor, and said, "I don't think so" and went on to read books that helped define my life's work.
NOV, 2014

Do Something Positive

We live in a day that is confusing. Much of entertainment and media portrays dysfunctional family life as normal. Sadly, it's become popular to be rude, to be unfaithful, to be ignorant of history and current events, and to devalue the contribution of fathers and mothers. While this noise is all around us, we don't have to opt in.

Simply turn it off and do something positive instead. Be kind to someone, tell your spouse you love her, talk about lessons learned from history at the dinner table, and through your daily example demonstrate why parents are the most important teachers each generation has.

By Christopher Robbins, Familius CEO and Pater Familius
NOV, 2014

Gems of Wisdom

For today's inspiration, please enjoy these two gems from members of our wonderful family.

"When we respond to our children's mistakes with punishment, manipulation, spanks, yelling, or hurtful words instead of empathy, understanding and respect, we're giving them what was given to us when we needed empathy, understanding and respect more than anything in our own childhood." —Jessica Carrasco

"Life happens in snapshots. Be sure to capture a few moments each day to preserve in your mind’s eye and your heart’s memory.” —Nina Miles
OCT, 2014

Halloween Memories Across the Sea

Growing up, most of my Halloween nights were spent overseas. You can imagine, then, that my Halloween experiences have been both interesting and varied. For example, when I was a kid (so about fifteen years ago), Australians didn’t even celebrate it for the most part, while in the expat neighborhoods of Singapore, Halloween was huge. We’re talking 2,000 pieces of candy gone—in an hour! (Mom had to dig into her secret chocolate stash and everything.)

One of the best Halloween nights I’ve ever had happened in Bangkok, Thailand. I was in my senior year of high school, and my friends and I had just decided that we would never be too old to dress up. So, on Halloween night, we made ourselves sports jerseys for each of the Snow White seven dwarves (I was Grumpy). Then we hit the streets, singing “Heigh-Ho” at the top of our lungs. I will never, ever forget how fun that was.

As you can see, no two Halloweens have ever been exactly the same for me and my family. We have some awesome traditions, sure—like killer decorations! But shaking things up each year has made Halloween all the more memorable.

So try something new this year! Spend the 31st with a family you’ve been wanting to get to know better, or give Trunk-or-Treating a go. Trust me, the memories you make will be that much sweeter if you do.

By Marian Spencer, Familius.com Editor
OCT, 2014

The Boy and the Moon: Sacrifice, determination, and love

Today’s Minute Inspiration comes in video form all the way from Italy! We’re pleased to feature Rino Alaimo’s “The Boy and the Moon,” a delightful, heartwarming short film about sacrifice, determination, and the pursuit of true love. It’s soon to become a beautiful Familius children’s book, but for today, enjoy this brief tribute to relationships and ask yourself this: What more can I do to show my family love?

—David Miles, Familius Director of Digital and Design
OCT, 2014

Why Self-Awareness Will Save Your Relationships

Do you have a clear perception of who you are? Can you say with the utmost confidence that you are totally aware of your feelings, your personality and behaviors, your beliefs and motivations—at all times?

I don’t know if anyone can, but that doesn’t mean self-awareness isn’t incredibly important. Low levels of self-awareness can lead to all sorts of problems, including aggression, defensiveness, finger-pointing (a.k.a. the blame game), and passive-aggressive behavior. In short, it can do serious damage where your relationships are concerned.

So how do we increase self-awareness?

First and foremost, develop the habit of simply observing. It’s easy to get caught up in your own thoughts. Learn to step outside of yourself, to identify your emotions and the triggers/thought patterns associated.

Second, identify which of your thought patterns are destructive. For example, obsessing over past offenses: self-victimization is destructive because we’re relying on external validation rather than internal validation—which will neither satisfy nor heal.

Finally, take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Adopting self-awareness doesn’t mean that we discount painful experiences; it means that we’re aware of our responses to them. We can then work through them, recognizing the part we played and redirecting our actions in a positive way.

For more useful tips on increasing self-awareness, I recommend the following articles:
“Develop Self-Awareness and Improve Your Relationships” by Tiny Buddha
“Self Awareness” by Change-Management-Coach.com

By Marian Spencer, Familius.com editor