I received a ton of email and Facebook messages in response to last week’s piece entitled Getting Healthy Ain’t Pretty. I appreciate all the kind words and I was humbled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received about my last few pieces. Please know that my face is looking a lot better!
If you hadn’t yet figured it out, I am on a bit of a Brené Brown kick these days. Earlier this year in a piece entitled The Importance of Vulnerability, I shared about Dr. Brown’s work and her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. One of the reasons I like Brené’s work (I’m just going to pretend we are on a first name basis!) is because she mixes a strong southern woman persona with extreme personal vulnerability.
Recently Brené Brown’s did an interview with Tim Ferriss, and there is a ton of solid content in it. It is a must watch, in my opinion! I will not spoil it all for you, but there are two things she shares related to family relationships that I think are pure gold. One is educational while the other is very tactical.
Brené describes three “types” of families: child based families, parent based families, and family based families. (I want to be careful here, and clear: none of them is the “right way” to run a family.) Let’s define them a bit:
- Child based families – These families do everything and anything for their children, which often means the entire family’s schedule is centered around the child(ren)’s activities, education, etc.
- Parent based families – These families do everything and anything around the parent’s activities and needs. This often is due to the parent’s strong desires or because the family’s source of income dictates it.
- Family based families – These families take a holistic approach to their schedule and activities. This often limits each member of the family’s ability to do everything they want to do from an activities perspective.
If I take a step back and look honestly at my own family (and I think you should do this, too), I would categorize my family as a “family based family”. My wife and I tend to limit each family member’s activities to maximize time together. Example: If one of my kids is involved in an activity, there is a high probability that we will ALL attend as a family. We can’t do that if ALL four of our children are engaged in activities/sports at the same time. So, rightfully or wrongfully, we have chosen to limit our children’s opportunities. We have also prioritized carefree timelessness, a concept I learned about from Matthew Kelly’s book Building Better Families. Carefree timelessness means we try to maintain free or unscheduled time. It allows us to be social with others, it allows our kids to play outside with neighborhood kids, it frees us up to say “yes” to family invitations. It’s not perfect and we don’t do it enough, but we try.
Knowing which one of the above family types best describes yours can be extremely helpful in managing your family and, more importantly, will allow you to work better with your spouse/significant other. In order to help with this, Brené gives a pragmatic tactic to increase vulnerability with that person. It is often said that a relationship is 50/50. This is a complete fallacy. Brené recommends communicating your percentage to your spouse on a regular basis. “Honey, it has been a challenging day! I only have ‘20 to give’ right now.” This indicates to your spouse that you are running low and they need to provide “the 80” for that period of time to make a whole 100%. If neither spouse is capable of operating in a manner to make a whole 100%, something needs to give. Don’t take a child to sports practice that day, order a pizza instead of cooking, and re-evaluate what is going on in your family in order to make a significant change.