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Building a Better Family

Just Some of the Things my Father Taught Me

By Greg Ray – Friend and Former Journalist

  1. How to finish really big and daunting jobs: Don’t be scared at how big it looks. Just start working and keep going until you’ve done. Amazing how quick even big jobs can be done if you get stuck in and keep at it.
  2. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal. Just don’t. Always try to keep a clear conscience.
  3. Don’t be afraid of loneliness. Be who you are and the right people will come into your life when the time is right.
  4. Don’t throw it away if you can fix it.
  5. Never pretend to know something you don’t. Ask advice when you need it, but make your own decisions.
  6. Sing, even if you don’t know all the words.
  7. Play, even if you aren’t very talented, and don’t let your team down.
  8. If you make a mistake, start again. You’ll get it right eventually. Probably.
  9. If your kid is in strife, drop everything and help them.
  10. March to the beat of your own drum.

He also taught me a lot about fixing cars and machinery and how to use tools. And he tried to teach me to be as good as himself at sport, but that didn’t work out so well.

In Our House

You may be mother in your house,
but in our house
my own mother knows that role is mine.

You may be father in your house,
but in our house
my husband’s own father knows that role is not his.

While my father (and father-in-law) play grandpa in their houses and ours,
only my husband plays father in our house.

My mother (and mother-in-law) play grandma in their houses and ours,
but only I play mother in mine.

Everyone wants a good father, that’s true,
but in our house, you will be asked what kind of son or daughter you are, too,
(even if you are just playing that role.)

Everyone wants a divine mother’s prescription,
but are you a son or daughter who will listen?

Everyone wants a divine husband or wife.
Life offers no greater prize.
So, in or out of our house,
no one else will ever be allowed
to play that role in each other’s lives.

 

                                                                                 Kim Cooper

 

Family Fundamentals is for leaders. If that isn’t you – don’t walk away. No one becomes a good leader overnight; your family’s future depends on you filling these shoes.

“Will you be the person to bring peace and prosperity to your family? If not you… then who?”

The resources on this website are best used in conjunction with The Love Safety Net Workbook.

You can purchase it here: The Love Safety Net Workbook. Get access at Kim Cooper on Substack by becoming a paid subscriber; this option includes comment sections where you can interact with us and other readers as you work through the exercises that will help you establish the four pillars of a peaceful and productive home.

All of the material on this website is free (or will become free soon). It has grown organically over the years, and without the workbook to guide you, is a bit disorganised, but you are welcome to work through what you find here in whatever order you wish.

Why Build or Rebuild a Family?

How many ways can a family be torn apart? Addiction, neglect, separation, divorce, abandonment, death, war, mental illness, gambling, incest, infidelity. . .    for starters.

With so many forces at work tearing families apart, isn’t it time that a guide was written about how to put one back together?

 

YouTube video
Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge Demonstrates the Power in Refusing to Fight
 

If you search the internet on how to set up a business or corporation, you will receive lots of detailed and highly professional advice. Search for how to build a family, and you will get a lot of vague, unstructured platitudes, such as ‘Communicate and make sure you spend time together’. But really, what does that mean?

We will try to keep things interesting and not too dry. But wishy-washy and unstructured is not what you will get here.

Family Fundamentals is not about platitudes but setting up a financially, emotionally, and physically solid family.

Enlist Extra Help on this Journey

Trust me, you are going to need help along the way. Our induction exercise might sound like a game for children, but there is hard science here you will do well to harness.

Meet your team of old allies who will make the endeavour possible:

Exercise 1

Who are the people you look up to? Think back now to all the solid, honest individuals who have positively impacted your life.

Make a list now of the ones who come to mind. It doesn’t matter if you have not met them in real life. Whose respect would you value most?

Close your eyes and imagine these role models of yours are here with you now.

How would they react to seeing you working with your wife or husband to bring peace and prosperity to your family?

Picture how it might look to see your family cooperating and becoming more stable. What might this accomplish, and how might this affect your role models’ opinion of you?

Don’t keep reading until you have spent at least two minutes on this. Five would be better but spend at least two.

Next, draw a little picture of these people. Simple faces with a name above each head will do. This is your support team on this journey. Some may join the process in real life; hopefully, their numbers will grow. Either way, their support will help you. Reinforce that support by keeping the picture you have drawn close to you.

Setting the Scene

The “Good King” archetype of antiquity saw special days of the year when everyone could speak in the royal court to air their grievances. The royal couple would sit for days, carefully listening and asking questions. Only after everyone in the kingdom had been given their chance to speak would they convene with their advisors and make plans, which, in the end, had to satisfy everyone.

The Good King’s governance had nothing to do with privilege or preordained authority. His right to rule was based on his family’s responsibility to their subjects and their ability to come up with solutions that would maintain the peace and prosperity of the kingdom. In some versions of the story, if the king did not accomplish this, he was slaughtered and ploughed into the fields as fertiliser!

Action Point: Authority is dependent wholly on responsibility. Roles of authority should only ever be delegated to those who act responsibly towards the people they have authority over.

Who Should be Leader of the Family?

Circumstances will likely require that each one of us ends up taking the role of leader in our family at some point or another. This may arise because of a natural disaster or emergency, or because the current leader of the group becomes sick, injured, fails, or is negligent in their duties.

The role of wife and/or mother in a family requires leadership skills that should be encouraged with her authority respected.

While the leadership role women play in a family should never be underestimated, men have a distinct advantage when it comes to family leadership.

Research shows that men, generally, will only imitate men in roles of authority, while both women and men will imitate behaviour demonstrated by a male role model.

This fact can create a real problem for women with husbands who have grown up learning patterns of dictatorship/cowardice rather than leadership.

No matter how hard a wife works at improving her own leadership style, the men in her family may not be influenced to follow her example.

It may also be a problem if, rather than acting as dictator or coward, a woman’s husband simply ignores his family responsibilities.

An immature husband/father may feel he can leave all parental responsibility and authority to his wife while continuing to focus exclusively on his own work, hobbies, pastimes and goals, separate to the individual and/or combined needs and ambitions of his family.

No matter how responsibly this man’s wife steps up to the plate to fill in the gap, his sons will likely imitate their father’s immaturity.

Women in this situation should not despair entirely, for learning the skills outlined in this program will still help their daughters and generally improve conditions for everyone in their home.

The fact many men will not model behaviour from female role models means that if men hope to see their sons grow into respected leaders in their homes and communities, they must take an active and positive role as good fathers in their family.

Men especially should feel encouraged to learn positive leadership skills, knowing that by taking the lead, they are in a unique position to be a positive role model for their entire family.

If a wife/mother fails to take the role of benevolent leader, acting instead as dictator or coward (more on this below), the family will also certainly suffer.

Any family that is dealing with a dictator in their home may gain benefit from our best-selling title Back From the Looking Glass which outlines steps the rest of the family can take to help end the conflict.

Family Fundamentals Basic Requirements

While leadership styles may vary from humorous and light-hearted to serious and stern, there are a few qualities that are always necessary for good leadership.

The first are patience and respect.

The next is a spirit of optimism that solutions can (and must) always be found that will allow all family members’ needs be met without compromise.

Keep a level head and ensure all family members have a chance to state their needs (without fear of ridicule or harassment), and you will find the wisdom and creativity to come up with real solutions that satisfy the needs of all family members.

As serious as running a family is, most importantly, always try and have fun!

Why the Good King & Queen Archetypes Need Reviving

Unlike the Good King and Queen archetype that required leaders to bring peace, cooperation and prosperity to the land, societies across the globe have, for many centuries, been locked into false dualisms, contrived debates, and polarised narratives intended to foster division and prevent a basic cooperative approach.

We are pitted against each other by people in power who know exactly what they are doing. For us to bicker and fuss about unimportant issues and problems means that we are adequately distracted from working together and forming strong and stable communities. Groups that are constructively self-governed are not easily led by advertisers, corporations and corrupt governments; none of whom work in our best interests.

Numerous examples in politics, sports, philosophy, and even the arts can and will be provided in our new book series, The Business of Marriage.

Strong and stable families excel at sharing resources—making them wealthy—but also poor consumers. None of these attributes are in the interest of most governments or corporations.

Yet the concept of the free and mobile individual was set forward as the key to success in both the capitalist and socialist philosophical models of the twentieth century. Families are a fascinating and exponentially more powerful expression of the same idea: a free and virtuous cog in the larger productive mechanism that is the society, the economy, and the culture.

The functional family occupies a special place in society, and if humanity is to flourish, it must continue to do so.

Hence, building stronger families, in many ways, is a positive revolutionary act.

We are faced with no other option.

Healthy societies are underpinned by powerful and aware individuals who are free to explore thoughts and ideas within the reasonable confines of basic decency and ethics.

We will not improve our state or country’s political systems unless we start in our homes.

Are we suggesting a return to monarchy, no! The Good King (and Queen) is an archetype—a fairy tale or mythology that teaches real-life lessons—providing inspiration for anyone (male or female) in a position of leadership. If you are interested in reading more on this archetype, you might like to visit the website here:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-four-archetypes-of-the-mature-masculine-the-king/

This site also gives insight into the shadow aspects of leadership where the king (or queen) becomes either a weakling or tyrant.

Kingship versus Dictatorship

A leader who is focused only on their own needs and goals will have a hard time completing group projects successfully and may be considered a dictator rather than a leader.

As in business, without procedures and processes in place for meetings etc., it is nearly impossible for a leader to know each family member’s needs, let alone keep them in mind.

This fact makes it all too easy for motivated or ambitious leaders to slide into the role of a dictator rather than a respected leader.

Dictators rule by using any combination of unpleasant tactics, which may include withholding information/resources; blocking/refusing communications; emotional manipulation (playing on other family members guilt or fear); coercion; derogating others; boasting; aggression; excluding members from decisions that affect them; slowing down agreement/approval on decisions that affect others in the group; withholding affection; withholding or forcing sexual contact; humiliation; threats, and ultimatums.

These learned behaviours are passed down through families, school systems, and other organisations and are so common in practice that many of us will think that at least some of these are normal.

Over the long haul, this coercive form of leadership will generally fail to keep the group motivated and will produce resentment rather than respect.

As younger members learn and imitate these tactics, a culture of aggression, alienation and chaos will prevail and even cause the group’s social structure to eventually fail. Symptoms of this may include low-level unresolved conflict, high-level conflict arising around decision-making, divorce, nervous breakdown, suicide, mental illness, and other forms of group fragmentation.

What kind of process for effective decision-making are you using now in your family? Are you guilty of any of the provocative and unpleasant tactics above?

Action Point: If you recognise yourself in the description of a tyrant, do not despair. In the same way, you learned these destructive and ineffective means of getting your way, you can make the decision to start today learning much more effective and successful ways of working together with people.

Kingship versus Cowardliness

The coward (or slave) is simply the flip side of the tyrant. Cowards rule by playing on their victimhood as a means of avoiding responsibility. The man who exploits his workers will search for an opportunity to find fault with them, and then pretend they are exploiting him.

The coward tells the world that their family members are not worthy of them. They will squander the family’s resources at their own discretion, saying there is no point discussing things honestly because they will always be ignored, misunderstood, or treated harshly if they do.

Cowards use unpleasant and unfair tactics such as withholding information/resources, blocking/refusing communications, and emotional manipulation to provoke other family members. The goal in the coward’s case is not coercion but to create a smokescreen. They use other family members’ anger to get sympathy and as an excuse not to discuss things honestly.

Action Point: Everyone needs the courage to speak when it comes to our decision-making process (DMP). It is each family member’s responsibility (and no one else’s) to ensure their needs have been presented and considered. If someone is making decisions outside of their role without discussion, roles and responsibilities need to be reviewed, and a freeze is put on their access to resources until this happens.

Many companies require two signatories for payments to be released. Many families would be wise to adopt this same policy.

How Bad Decision-Making Tactics Work

Tyrants or cowards are not creative and use a fairly standard set of coercion tactics to disrupt fair and logical planning and decision-making.

It is best to study these roadblocks and learn to eradicate them from our DMP. Toward this goal, we will work on dismantling some of their causes in our upcoming audio series The Marriage Mindset.

Millions of people still want the basics, i.e., a loving partnership while raising a family, but have no idea how to achieve this. Have patience overcoming the roadblocks… the goal is worth the effort.

Your Family’s Concerns

What are your family’s concerns about your decision-making style?

Have you been absent too long, or are you a helicopter parent who is always present, strict or authoritarian?

Or perhaps you are permissive yet overbearing? This happens when a parent indulges their child in exchange for making them a surrogate emotional (or even sexual) partner. Young people’s lives are their own, and no matter how indulgent we might be with them, we sin (or create heavy karma for ourselves) if we tie them to us in a way that does not allow them to create their own lives and destinies.

Good leaders should be world-wise enough to understand that family members do not need to have the same interests, motivations, goals or beliefs in order to live and work together successfully.

A good leader’s purpose should be to interpret the information they collect (with understanding) from all family members and arrive at decisions (including plans and goals) that satisfy everyone’s needs.

Action Point: Are you game enough to ask for feedback from your family on your leadership style? Do your family members feel free to talk about their needs openly with you? In the section titled Assembling, we will talk about ways you can really hone in on improving your style to suit the personality type of each family member. For now, think about the type of leader you would like to be and ways you can start living up to that ideal.

 

People who are not pitted against each other, naturally enjoy cooperating with each other. For our families to get back to this natural state (where we can flourish and prosper) let’s look for the roadblocks we must first overcome:

 

Next – Assembling

Good Fathers and Mothers
Table of Contents Links

1. Rules of Induction...Building a Better Family
2. Debriefing...Undoing Roadblocks to Co-operation
3. Assembling...Everyone Needs a Role
4. The Terrain... 5 Areas for Balance
5. Reaching Agreements...The Decision Making Process (DMP)

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

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