familyby Robin Gurse

If you died tomorrow, would your children know what made you you? What made you cry, made you angry, what brought you contentment? Would they remember what your laugh sounded like? Would they know what kind of music you loved, if you believed in God, and what you really did at work? Would they be able to tell their friends a story from your childhood?

Would they find solace and strength as they continued on with their own lives with the knowledge of what you treasured about each of them, what you saw as their unique talents and gifts, and that you unconditionally loved them?

How does it feel to think about the possibility that for each of these questions, your answer is “No” or “I don’t know” or “Somewhat”?

If you answered “No” to most of these questions, what is it that stops you from sharing and connecting yourself authentically with the people you love the most? I believe there are two reasons: (1) Fear: The fear of the possibility of being judged, rejected, and hurt by exposing ourselves to others; and (2) Habit: We live in a culture that actually encourages us to lie to ourselves and others in the name of “looking good.”

What’s the cost of this behavior? Here’s a true story:

A friend’s ex-husband died suddenly at the age of 50 of a massive heart attack. At the time, their two daughters were 8 and 10. Although she had divorced him, for the next 5 years after his death, my friend kept a message on her telephone answering machine so she could listen to it and still feel connected with him. Recently, she played back her ex-husband’s message to her now 13- and 15-year-old daughters — and they had no idea who this man was.

Family Coaching is about becoming aware of our attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions and creating new ones if they no longer serve us. And when we change our thinking, we change our behavior.

So what can you do — starting today — if you are not satisfied with your answers to my questions? Here’s a short list of ways to spend time with your family doing everyday things where you’ll have the opportunity to share yourself and enjoy getting to know them better, also:

Cook a meal (have fun and involve everyone in the planning, preparing, eating, and cleaning up)
Play a board game
Put on your favorite music and dance
Plant flowers in the backyard
Pick up trash at the beach

Choose one or two for the coming week, communicate your “great idea” with your family (you may even want to read them this Newsletter and begin sharing your thoughts and feelings), and block in the time on your calendars.

By doing these simple activities, you may discover that:
Your children open up naturally; you don’t have to pressure them to find out what’s going on in their lives;
You remember that you enjoy feeling relaxed and having fun with your family; and
There are fewer arguments, less tension, and more cooperation among all of you.

If you do these activities and conversations are still awkward, you may need someone to guide you in developing new habits of thought and behavior; but go for it on your own first and see what you create. All you’ve got to lose is your fear and an outdated habit or two

From Sarah: Robin is a certified Family Coach committed to helping families work together and sort out differences. You can visit her website at

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