Everyone wants a happy, harmonious family.
Whether we’re married or divorced, we have an image of the family dynamics we’d like.
And we rarely achieve them. Why?
We’re lazy. We’re clueless. We’re too busy working and paying the bills. The reasons are manifold.
I need help. You probably do too.
So Covey seems like a credible source. I was curious what he said about improving your family life.
“Good families – even great families – are off track 90 percent of the time!” Covey writes early in the book.
That sounds bad, right? But he adds that successful families know how to get back on track.
“The key is they have a sense of destination,” Covey writes. “They know what the ‘track’ looks like. And they keep coming back to it time and time again.”
Honestly, I don’t feel like my family life (my 11-year-old son and I) even has a track much of the time. We’re careening here and there, stopping and starting, taking unnecessary detours.
Believe me, I’d like to know what the track looks like and how to find it.
Covey tries to answer that question in the book’s seven chapters, each covering one of his habits of highly effective families.
Habit 1: Be Proactive.
“It is so easy to be reactive!” Covey writes. “You get caught up in the moment. You say things you don’t mean. You do things you later regret. And you think, ‘If only I had stopped to think about it, I never would have reacted that way.’”
He gives suggestions on how to chart a family course and stay on it. He then builds on the idea in the next chapter.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.
He recommends writing a “family mission statement” with input from all the members.
“Remember that involvement in the process is as important as the product,” Covey writes. “Unless people feel that they have some say in the formation of the vision and values that will govern them, guide them, lead them, and measure their progress, they will not be committed.”
OK, a family mission statement sounds a little lofty. Sometimes my only mission is to get dinner on the table and the dishes washed.
But books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families are helpful because they make us think. They get us out of a rut. They help us identify family problems and learn ways to fix them.
We’ll never follow – or even remember – all the tips in this or any other parenting book.
But that’s no excuse for not expanding our parenting horizons. Good parents seek out help. The job of parenting is too hard to do in isolation.
As a parent, you’re going to feel overwhelmed at times. You’re going to feel like a failure. Relax. Everyone does. But there are plenty of resources to give you encouragement and help. Take advantage of them.