Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Qualities That Move Your Family From Good to Great

What makes for a healthy and happy family?

love and family
from  Five-Star Families: Moving Yours From Good to Great (p 127)

Carol Kuykendall, the director of MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) International, attempts to answer this question in Five-Star Families: Moving Yours from Good to Great in which she explains 5 qualities of these families: love, fun, loyalty, growth, and faith.     

Being a relatively new mom and wife, I like to devour parenting books all the while trying to receive nuggets of wisdom while tossing out the fluff.  So when my church offered a choice of free books on Mother’s Day for all the moms out there, Kuykendall’s shiny bright green book and title jumped out at me.

I want a GREAT family!

I want to be in a FIVE STAR family!

Off the bat, her book’s title tapped into my perfectionism while triggering my insecurities. I had to read it. 

Although not mentioned directly, Kuykendall seems to touch upon the theory that suggests that all happy families are alike in that they resemble each other.  In other words, happy families have “certain traits” when facing common family problems; these traits allow them to eventually go through them.

Could the obvious traits of love, fun, loyalty, growth, and faith be it?

Yes, Kuykendall seems to espouse.  And there is no better place to start cultivating them by first accepting where we are in our season as family (a.k.a it’s not too late!).    

Kuykendall defines each quality in part two of the book and discusses how a family can develop each quality. Using stories of her own family and others, she drops some good quotations, including those from the Bible, to inspire and to challenge the reader.  

Admittedly, I couldn’t relate to all her stories and I ended up glossing over a few of them in order to get to her main point. I thought at times that this “feel-good” book would be too “feel-good” and ask unrealistic expectations of my family. 

However, I will say that it was more inspiring and elicited some of my own nostalgia for the good memories from my childhood (and thumbs up to anything that invokes those good memories, right?). Moreover, I appreciated the author’s moments of vulnerability as she discusses the hard truths of motherhood:

My children have revealed that mothering doesn’t always bring out the best; it can also bring out the worst in me, and I have an ongoing need for forgiveness from the one who understand my guilt and shame.  This gift reminds me of my own dependence and neediness, which turns me to the giver, who gives me hope in my not-yet-doneness.” (p. 63)

“A mother’s love meets that longing when we’re young, but as we grow up, we realize that even mother’s aren’t perfect.  They can hurt our feelings or let us down or break a promise.  Accepting this reality represents an important step of growth, especially as we build more lasting relationships with other real and imperfect people.” (p 174)

Additionally, there were more than a few “ah-ha” moments for me sprinkled throughout the book:

  • On love:  Imperfect love is still good.  And the love our children will remember will not be from the money we spent on them but from the time we spent on them.
  • On fun: Sometimes we have to work at playing (True statement: I’ve had to learn to play with cars and trucks with my toddler son over and over, and over again).
  • On loyalty: We learn it first in our families, and then we later choose it as adults.
  • On growth: There are two types of growth in a family that should occur: outside (physical/ security) and inside (character growth).  A healthy family is a growing family and the challenge is to create an environment where individuals grow both separately and together, finding balance between the two.
  • On Faith:  it begins with where we stand in our personal faith before it is passed to our children.

Also, Kuykendall offers practical tips:

  • Making a “to do” list and a “to don’t list”  (p. 103)
  • The 21 tips for parenting (p. 168)
  • Are you growing? Doing a Mom growth check (p. 152)
  • Nurturing your marriage  (p.78)
  • Family traditions that create “fun” (p. 101)

In the end, the author’s choice of qualities (just to recap: love, fun, loyalty, growth, and faith) are not qualities that “blew me away” or were necessarily new to me. But they are qualities to still strive for.  To be intentional about.  To pass on as a legacy. To add along the other good qualities we read about in other books (hello gratitude!).

The book is a fast read and I may visit it again when I need a pick-me-up or when I am facing a new season of life in raising my son. Its tone is positive and encouraging; its advice is timely.  And because of how sections of the book are put together, it doesn’t have to be read linearly—just turn to the part that you need to read the most. That in itself makes it five star quality. 
from  Five-Star Families: Moving Yours From Good to Great (p. 153)

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