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Updated –  Feb 10, 2021.

by Kim Cooper

Just as you wouldn’t invest in an company that had no idea what it produced and no defined roles, standards, policies or procedures; why risk your family’s collective security on the vague, conflicting and sometimes horrifying ‘wisdom’ of what constitutes a solid marriage and family life..

M any years ago, I discovered the business world uses much better tools for helping people work together than what psychology generally offers families.

My husband Steve was working as a barman and coming home drunk most nights; long after our children were asleep. I was left at home—usually with no money—and 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 I was offered.

Yet when I looked for similar advice from the corporate arena, hey wow what a different story…

Empathy in those circles was deemed the most effortless emotional intelligence skill to teach staff, with training consisting of a two-hour workshop.

‘Change the locks’ was the only advice I was offered.

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 that day, I have discovered the business world has far better advice—on just about every level—than the soft-boiled platitudes 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. It was a call to reawaken the important status of husbandry and fatherhood. We are making a similar call to men in this article today.

The threats to families are now far broader than financial… so, how do men organise themselves now?

That address was a challenge for men to organise and defend themselves and their families.

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

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 the finger at each other while arguing about the cause:

Men must unite to protect their wives—from this blame game—because the truth is that even though more women than ever are divorcing their husbands, wives and mothers are not men’s true enemies.

We share more on the enemy forces that have divided women and men in our member’s area. Forces that do not work in your family’s interests. If you wish to build a stronger marriage we hope you will join us, there is a lot to read including practical advice on setting up a better structure for stability and cooperation in your home.

The Closest Enemy to Target 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 setting 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 cliche’s, 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.

Most families are dysfunctional because they do not have a solid organisational structure in place.

More on this in a moment but first let’s look at what families are worth to society.

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 unique in their ability to produce them.

Institutions, community housing, or even share accommodation, cannot create the same kind of stability and security provided by a well-organised family.

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

Yet the truth is more men (and women) than ever are walking out on their families, emotionally and physically injuring their partners (and children) or choosing not to enter a relationship.

The Solution

The real reason most families fight is that they do not have a solid organisational structure.

Governing a successful family is a high-status occupation and requires as many structures, standards, policies and procedures as running any professional group or organisation.

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

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

b. a clearly defined hierarchy is in place stating who reports to whom in the company’s organisational chart, determining 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…

In a family dispute, it is doubtful anyone will offer to talk to family members about defining their roles and responsibilities—let alone establish or review the family’s organisational chart.

More common: marriage counsellors will put divorce forward as the only realistic and honest solution. Predatory lawyers and court officials then enter the fray and actively escalate the conflict as the former partners become more and more defensive.

Divorce—while obviously sometimes necessary—is not the easy solution people pretend it to be.

My father who worked his long life as a family doctor wisely taught me that divorce is just about always a setback. Besides the emotional and financial expense, the spiritual cost in lost potential—of what could have been if your family had worked as a team—may always haunt you.

The common advice to ‘set a boundary’ in a family usually amounts to the aggrieved family member feeling they must use strong emotion in asking the person they have a problem with to change their behaviour.

This kind of boundary setting usually creates conflict rather than resolving it.

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

This might sound familiar in your family?

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

These roles—once defined—should then be supported and respected.

Disorganization 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, workers 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 alongside time, love and attention.

A little more on this in a moment…

Every Man a King and Every Woman a Queen

Both women and men need status and authority in their homes, supported by sensible financial and operational procedures.

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

…more men (and women) than ever are walking out on their families, emotionally and physically injuring their partners (and children) or choosing not to enter a relationship.

Just as you wouldn’t invest in a company that had no idea what it produced and no defined roles, standards, policies or procedures in place; why risk your family’s collective security on the vague, conflicting and sometimes horrifying ‘wisdom’ of what constitutes a solid marriage and family life.

Financial Competency

Beyond roles, avoiding corruption in an organisation requires accuracy and competency in financial reporting.

While discretionary spending is obviously limited and closely monitored in business, many men rail against accounting for their spending within their family.

A wife who dares to ask where her husband’s paycheck has gone—will often be made to believe she is impinging on his freedom in ways that makes her ugly.

Likewise, many men’s wives cause them constant anxiety by not sticking to an agreed budget with credit card spending. Questioned about expenditure, these same wives may call his manhood into question.

While all family members should have some funds for discretionary spending, lack of accurate accounting and financial oversight is not a path to freedom.

Just the same as any organisation of people, true freedom and growth generally come from the wise investment of time and resources alongside accuracy and competency in financial reporting.

A business partner who wants the freedom to lock themselves away with their computer, delete their browser history and hide financial transactions in the name of their personal freedom will—quite rightly—be seen as a potentially destructive liability to the businesses profitability, growth and potential. What this partner chooses to look at (and delete) may likewise be seen as potentially causing damaging legal and social repercussions.

Most men would not tolerate a business partner who behaved in this way while claiming these same ‘freedoms’ for themselves in their life partnership.

Discretionary power is also known to create strong vested interest groups in business which can cause corruption to become entrenched within a community.

Men are guilty of this when they fall for stereotyped cultural norms that claim the right to execute discretionary power in their marriage partnership in ways they would never tolerate in a male business partner. Other men who behave in the same way become their vested interest group.

Instead of crying victim and turning to your male friends if your wife has serious complaints against you, here is a good benchmark to check if you are really the great husband you claim to be:

Would I tolerate myself as a business partner?

Another benchmark for fathers is how active you are in promoting and supporting your wife’s reputation and authority in your household.

Trying to prove you are a better parent than your spouse is a well-paved road to a family law dispute (a place where many ‘great dads’ lose custody of their children). Is this the road any great dad wants to take his family down?

Children need mothers and fathers who cooperate and support each other. Undermining your partner and competing to be the best and most loved parent in your home will—in the long run—undermine every good intention you may have as a parent.

…….

 

Is Steve’s and my home life run as smoothly as a successful corporation?

Not by a long shot, but we have certainly made solid progress! This insanely big idea of how to produce more physical and emotional security in our lives has definitely built us a solid and peaceful home life.

As Steve and myself both came from broken homes, it has obviously taken time to develop these ideas and put them into practice in our family.

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

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

Dealing with the resistance that emotional manipulation causes was one reason it took so long for us to develop this programme.

If you can relate to these kinds of struggles around decision making in your marriage, don’t let these roadblocks dissuade you!

In Part 2, we will challenge you to tackle a few harmful programmes and help you get past them. The roadblocks to producing order in your home can indeed be conquered!

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

Form doesn't exist

 

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 putting a better foundation in place (and thinks themselves entitled to more than their share of the good stuff and less 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

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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