Even the word ‘family’ can conjure extreme emotions, either positive or negative, overflowing love and feelings of belonging or the agonising pain of rejection. So, what happened? There was an all out assault from …isms such as communism (AKA socialism), fascism to name just a few. These insidious isms are usually somewhere at the back of each movement, which are always political in nature and even religious in that people tend to become zealots. Some for the biggest movements currently have as part of their overarching goal the breakdown of the nuclear family.
So what does a futurist’s solution to family look like? It must incorporate three foundational aspects: Imagineering Vision; Love in healthy ways, and Teamwork. This article will unpack these vital components.
Imagineering Vision for a family as with any other vision has four vital steps: Imagine (vision); Solution; Commit and Partner. So, having a positive vision for your marriage as the leaders then for your nuclear family unit. What do you believe in as a family, what are your goals, what do you stand for, who do you follow, where do you see your family in 5 years time, 20 years time, 100 years time.
I have spent years observing ‘family’ and families. The most successful families in any culture have a combined vision where each person takes a stake in the vision. They each know their place and where they fit. Solution – so a measurable plan to achieve your goals and vision with regular reviews to stay on course (or at times even amend the destination). However life happens and some families may have had an identity then over the course of time that identity has shifted or gone, usually due to children growing up but could also be due to changes in circumstance such as loss of a loved member of the family or your business or previous vision or even just the weariness of not having achieved the vision over many years. This unfortunately can result in people living in the past. It is wiser to live present – future, whilst absolutely honouring what has gone before and who influenced you and how you became the person you are today. Commit – where each member chooses to put each other and the vision above selves daily knowing that the key to success is always outside yourself, working together to achieve your common goal. Partner – being accountable to each other and I would also suggest being accountable to outside advisors which could be spiritual leaders such as pastors or accounting and legal teams if in business. Without a vision, people perish.
The second essential component is Love, not lust nor idolising your family, so healthy family relationships. There are four types of love: agape or unconditional love such as a mother for her children; filio or family love such as with siblings; storge or mateship such as we see in the armed forces where one would die for his mate; and eros – physical attraction. For a successful marriage ideally you as a couple will commit to establish and maintain all four types of love! If this sounds foreign to you, I highly recommend the book Love is a Choice to overcome unhealthy patterns and thinking or for strategies for success, I heartily recommend The Five Love Languages. If we get any of these aspects of love out of balance it can lead to dysfunction, even incest or idolatry. The latter being where one member of the family controls the others (whether consciously or otherwise) while the others enable the unhealthy behavioural patterns, which most often include addictions such as with an alcoholic.
The third component is Teamwork! This seems to a lost art where every man and woman is into himself / herself. Most obviously characterised by ‘selfies’. I can recall decades ago when I began living between Australia and Indonesia and upon returning back to Australia after a few months away it was like being an observer to a crumbling society. Why the change from working together as a team, family, community or country to being all about self? Interestingly this often coincides with globalism. One extreme to the other. Or as a West Australian seeing advertisements for gambling on television. Wasn’t gambling illegal outside racetracks or the Anzac Day game of two-up? At the very least it leads to massive breakdown of relationships over financial demise and preferring the addiction over loved ones. When one member of the family is caught up in addiction, to protect the others is at least as important as continuing to love the person with the addiction unconditionally. Tough love though requires not accepting the destructive behaviour or it will destroy the family. I highly recommend the book Tough Love on this topic.
Alternatively, the most successful families I choose to follow are those who have a wonderful vision beyond themselves as a family which in itself is the only way to stop idolatry of the family. This could be a Christian family in ministry or a family whose purpose is to influence culture to lift up those in need, to empower others to overcome, who hopefully in turn will reach out to help others. This external vision must occur at the same time as prioritising your own family.
So a futurist’s solution to a better world for family is about making the world a better place which has a foundation of a healthy family based on combined vision, loving in healthy ways including tough love if needed, and teamwork. If we do not fight for our families then we can expect to be overcome by the isms. Which will you choose today, life or death, blessings or curses for your family?