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Updated from original post dated –  Nov 14, 2018

by Kim Cooper

Just as you wouldn’t invest in an organisation that had no idea what it produced, with no defined roles, standards, policies or procedures—why risk your family’s collective stability and security on vague, conflicting and sometimes horrifying notions of what constitutes good family governance?

It was many years ago that I discovered the business world uses much better tools for helping people work together than what families are generally offered.

My husband was a barman and coming home drunk most nights, long after our children were asleep. I was left at home—usually with no money—with three kids under 10, that I somehow had to feed and entertain. I started to look online for help on how to deal with a husband who lacked empathy. ‘Change the locks’ was the only advice anyone had for me.

Yet when I looked at advice from the corporate arena, hey wow, what a different story! Empathy in those circles was deemed the easiest emotional intelligence skill to teach staff, with training usually consisting of a two-hour workshop.

‘Change the locks’ was the only advice anyone had for me.

Thankfully I didn’t listen to the advice I received back then to leave Steve…

Steve and I with our youngest son who just graduated from High School

∞ We recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary

In the years since, I have discovered that on just about every level, the business world has far better advice than what is generally offered to families.

. . . . .

Families are under threat

‘Every man is a king’ was the catch-phrase of a famous radio broadcast known as the Share Our Wealth Speech delivered during the Great Depression—a time when financially life was even harder on families than it is today.

But the threats to families are now far broader than financial… so, how do we organise ourselves now?

That address was a challenge to men to organise and defend themselves, and to push back against the same financial powers that are again crushing down on many of us.

Economically, the average family is under more stress than at any time since the Great Depression.

But the threats to families are now far broader than financial… so, how do we organise ourselves now?

Don’t be duped into blaming the people you love

Most of us feel the pressure, but end up running in circles, pointing a finger at each other while arguing about the cause:

  • men blame feminism
  • women blame narcissism
  • children of all ages blame their parents

The real enemy is our own ignorance

If you search the internet on how to set up a business or corporation, you will find links to many thousands of libraries full of highly detailed and extremely professional advice on how to set up an organisation with a solid structure.

Search for how to set up a functional family, on the other hand, and you will be inundated with vague and unstructured platitudes, such as:

‘Make sure you spend time together’
‘Communication is key’
‘Be flexible’

It all sounds warm and inviting, but what does it really mean? Spend time together communicating by swearing at each other? Be flexible in allowing your own plans for the day to be ignored?

In reality this advice is almost worthless.

The real reason most families are dysfunctional is that they do not have a solid organisational structure in place.

You need your family more than you might think

If we consider family as a business I think most would agree that what families produce is physical, emotional and financial stability and security.

Stability and security are not fashions or gimmicks, and society cannot afford to consider them luxury items.

If we consider family as a business I think most would agree that what families produce is physical, emotional and financial stability and security.

These are precious commodities and families are unique in their ability to produce them. Institutions, community housing, or even share housing, cannot produce the same kind of stability and security a well-organised family can.

So if we agree that stability and security are important, and families unique in their ability to provide these, it only makes sense that just like any other primary producers, what families produce needs protecting.

Yet more people than ever are walking out on their partners. More people than ever are emotionally and physically injuring their partners, and more people than ever are choosing not to enter a relationship at all.

The obvious solution

The real reason most families fight is that they do not have solid organisational structures in place.

Governing a family successfully requires as many structures, standards, policies and procedures as running any professional group or organisation.

Consider… if there is conflict between employees, the first thing a good manager will check is that:

a. each person’s roles are well-defined, and

b. a clearly defined hierarchy is in place for who reports to whom in the company’s organisational chart, defining how work is assigned and reviewed.

If management doesn’t solve the dispute, trade unions may become involved in what is known as a demarcation dispute.

By contrast, if family members are in dispute, the member with the problem is usually told they need to ‘set a boundary’.

What is referred to as boundaries in families is called demarcation in business.

It is highly unlikely that anyone will offer to talk to family members about defining their roles and responsibilities, let alone review the family’s organisational chart. Setting boundaries in a family usually amounts to the person with the problem with someone, being pressed to ask that person to change their behaviour. This kind of boundary setting will usually create conflict rather than resolve it.

Imagine if employees were given this type of vague advice on how to deal with problems with a coworker? “Don’t tell me what to do, you are not my boss!” or “Don’t tell me how to do my job!”

Does this sound familiar in your family?

What is referred to as boundaries in families is called demarcation in business. Surely it is obvious that if there is conflict in your home, one of the first things that should be defined is the family’s roles and responsibilities.

Disorganisation Leads to Corruption

If you are running a retail shop and don’t have your systems in order, it won’t be long until your merchandise starts to disappear and money go missing from the cash register (or bank account). You might blame your staff, but with no roles, standards or policies in place, they will probably feel entitled to make their own rules.

In a family, just the same as in a business, disorganisation almost inevitably leads to corruption.

Corruption in a family occurs when some members feel entitled to more of the families shared resources (and less of the unpaid work) than other members.

This of course includes money, food and material goods but also time, love and attention.

A little more on that in a moment but first…

Every man a king and every woman a queen

We have dug deep into history and come up with the mythology of The Good King (and queen) to provide wisdom and guidance in developing a program for good family governance.

Setting up your family structure professionally will be a challenge, but not nearly as tough as allowing all the bad ideas out there (of how families should be managed) to drag your life around in circles.

…more people than ever are walking out on their partners. More people than ever are emotionally and physically injuring their partners, and more people than ever are choosing not to enter a relationship at all.

Just as you wouldn’t invest in an organisation that had no idea what it produced, with no defined roles, standards, policies or procedures—why risk your family’s collective stability and security on vague, conflicting and sometimes horrifying notions of what constitutes good family governance?

…….

Is Steve’s and my home life a perfectly run corporation?

Not yet, but we are working towards that! This insanely big idea of how to produce more physical and emotional security in our lives, is a work that is still in progress.

It has taken time to develop these ideas and put them in place in our own family.

In the development process we encountered many roadblocks (more on them in Part 2).

When it comes time to plan or make decisions, unfortunately without solid operational policies and proceedures in place, many of us have become used to (in at least some ways) emotionally manipulating our family.

Dealing with this resistance was one reason it took so long for us to develop this programme.

If you can relate to these kind of struggles around decision making, don’t let these roadblocks dissuade you!

In Part 2, we will challenge you to tackle a few of the bad programmes that will help you get past these. The road blocks to producing order from the chaos (in your home) certainly can be conquered!

To Continue Reading Part 2 Please Take a Moment and Join Our Newsletter:

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PS. This programme is only suitable for families where the adults are ready to work together on a better future. If instead corruption has set in and one partner won’t cooperate on putting a better foundation in place (and thinks themselves entitled to more than their share of the good stuff and less than their share of the hard stuff), please start here with our best seller Back From the Looking Glass – 13 Steps to a Peaceful Home. The flow chart at the very end of the book , which shows how to disrupt this abusive (corruption) cycle is worth the price of the book on its own!

 

~ Good Fathers and Mothers is a program still in development mode. If you feel aligned and wish to help on any professional level – please contact us direct at kimcooper66@gmail.com. We are a small team here and appreciate any assistance you may be able to offer. ~

Kim Cooper

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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'.

This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. I don’t feel I am in a position to assist you in this exciting endeavor at this time, but I did want to leave a note of encouragement. I think this is a terrific idea and will provide a much-needed help to families worldwide!! Thank you for working to put this together!

  2. Kim,
    I’m intrigued! Having worked in the business world, I’m interested to see how corporate philosophy can be applied to family. We expect our loose and informal operations to run smoothly, but they often don’t. Maybe this is the type of structure we need. Looking forward to see what you have in store for us. Thank you!

  3. Kim so true. Perhaps you might consider including a scientific branch to this team. Much of what you do can be proven scientifically regarding the brain and the social sciences. Its time people stop relegating destructive behaviors to labels and get on with the task of “getting along”. Too much at stake here in regard to the family and the vast influence that the family has on society.

  4. I love that word ‘Demarcation’. Somehow it seems easier to apply than ‘boundaries’. I think because it indicates something more simple. Such as a statement – ‘this is your responsibility, and this is mine’.
    I’m going to try using it as a way of thinking, and clearing up some of my own mental and interpersonal muddles. Probably easier said than done, but here goes….
    Yes, a good, and refreshing as always article.

  5. I’m SO gald to have found someone who is smart (and brave) enough to shout out these ideas. Until I found Kim and her school of thought, I thought I was crazy in thinking like this and believing that change was possible. Everyone else seemed to confirm such thoughts. Now I feel like I’m out of the twilight zone!! Thank you, Kim. Onward!

  6. hello kim and friends,
    I concur completely. families need structure and all members need boundaries. Parents need to be leaders in their families and families need direction and goals and traditions.
    obviously these things structures take time and effort to reinforce however but they are the building blocks for the future.
    now saying that, these statements are extra easy to spruke .anything thats important requires effort.
    family conflict can be a symptom of lack of skills to deal with the issue,reluctence to get involved and lack of empathy for others.families do benefit from having a business type structure.
    Ihave followed KIM COOPERfor many years and found the website helpful in understanding human behaviour.human beings are a complicated lot and need lots of help to connect together well.

    i have been involved with the Toughlove Parent Support Program since 2001 and this program provides assistance to families to deal with unacceptable adolecent behaviour .Many families come after they have tried everything in their tool kit and need extra help to create the family they desire.
    the Toughlove Program uses a structured process to assist parents to regain structure and respect in their homes. We use an educative process at weekly meetings where parents learn new skills they can apply to their family situation along with a weekly action plan and report on how this plan worked.

    I whole hearterly endorse kim’seffort to move forward with this project and would love to offer insight Wayne McCallum

    1. Hi Wayne,
      I could do with some tough love coaching. Would you be interested to do something like that? Alternatively, do you know where I could get something like this?
      Jo.

  7. Hi Kim,
    Your approach is really a breath of fresh air thanks for all your work I had good results at Dr stosnys boot camp weekend it taught me about core values and helped put things on perspective and also I needed to something drastic when things we’re really bad I called the police and had my husband arrested it actually helped my marriage alot putting down my foot on
    bad behavior
    All the best
    Cindy

  8. If you were to visit my 90 year old Egyptian grandmother in Melbourne, we ‘d be arguing politics and drinking coffee (thick, strong Turkish coffee) until 1am and eating broad beans and eggs for breakfast (ful medames) well after midday the next day. A very different regime and structure from my mother’s family and Kim’s family. Negotiating new modern family traditions is not always straightforward and Kim and I, with completely different backgrounds, are well placed to talk about it.

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