How can we raise a happy family?
Modern families are often overwhelmed by the amount things we have to do – it often feels like are out of control.
And, according to Brice Feiler, the author of The Secrets of Happy Families, our children sense that is the case.
The way to make things better, it turns out, may be to bring some practices from work into our homes.
Many organisations, whether they realise it or not, are having to become more agile – a way of working that involves small teams working for short periods of time on small elements of projects, with a focus on making real, tangible progress.
These teams use tools like checklists, daily updates, weekly reviews and feedback.
An agile approach shifts power from executives directing work to teams that work towards a goal and increasingly manage themselves.
In this TED talk, Feiler says that when some families tried to use this approach in their homes, their children loved it, it helped reduce stress, increase communication and made them happier.
Everybody likes checklists. Children really like them.
If they have checklists of things to do in the morning, they quickly get into the habit of doing things on the list and checking them off.
But to make a real difference, we need to sit down and talk together.
During weekly family meetings, which don’t need to last more than 20 minutes, we should asks things like what worked well this week, what didn’t work well and what shall we agree to work on next week.
The agile manifesto sets out the principles that underpin agile work – highlighting the importance of face-to-face communication, adaptabilty, self-organising teams and regular reflection as a group.
As parents it’s instinctive to want to tell our kids what to do.
That is not going to prepare them for a job market where they will be valued more for their creative ability than their willingness to follow orders.
Instead, Feiler says, we should try and empower our kids – helping them practice how to make decisions, come up with consequences for their actions.
If we help kids set their own goals, make plans to achieve them and teach them how to reflect on how things are going and how they should adjust their own actions – we may raise children better prepared for the changing world of work.
And, more importantly, we may be able to build a happy family that feels like it’s a close knit team.