Thursday, September 9, 2010

Frantic Family: Part 1

Kent and I recently read "The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family" by Patrick Lencioni. The author uses a fable to demonstrate how most Americans "wing it" with their family life. Literal tears welled up in my eyes as I empathized with the main character, a mother who was barely balancing all the demands of running her family: volunteering at school, chauffeuring children to extracurricular activities, keeping active in their faith and church, hosting get-togethers with friends, maintaining a semi-clean house, and on and on. I felt her stress because it described so much my own feeling of barely keeping up with life. Frantic is the perfect word for how I've felt for at least five years. The husband in the fable, who owns a consulting firm, mentions that if his clients ran their businesses the way he and she ran their family, those clients would quickly be out of business. The story develops from there and gives the protagonist and the reader some tools for bringing clarity and purpose to the running of any family.

(Side note about the book. Kent loved it. I could have done without the fable and skipped right to the summary at the end where the author leaves the story and gives real-life examples of families who have practiced the points of the book. Either way, it opened a conversation for Kent and me and as a result, I think we'll make some great progress as a family.)

I have a degree in business management, so the idea of running a family the way a manager would run a business makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, I'm surprised it didn't dawn on me earlier. For the past few years, I've embraced the idea that motherhood is my full-time job right now and I answer to my Father in Heaven as my "boss". I've taken parenting courses and tried various job charts, reward systems, etc. to run my household as a good "employee" would. However, this book helped me shift my paradigm slightly. I am not an employee. I am the co-owner, with Kent, of this business of running a family. Heavenly Father is a stock holder in our company (though the parallel falls apart a little there). Basically, He wants me and Kent to be successful in running our family because the "dividends" that come back to Him are our righteous children and those whose lives they will affect for good.

The book also gave me permission to not be a perfect parent and leader of this family. Part of the process outlined in the book is to set goals toward strengthening one familial weakness at a time. Throughout our marriage as I've looked at all the things that we could do better at (more time with our children, organized finances, a finished landscape, decluttered house, etc.), I never know where to start. I chip away at each problem area simultaneously, but never really conquer any of them. I now feel free to let some weak points wait while our family defines and tackles whatever one weakness is taking the biggest toll at the time. The strategy doesn't have to be perfect. We just need a strategy.

Stay tuned... I'll cover this topic more over several posts (with the label "Frantic Family") and let you know our experiences going through the process and fixing our first weakest point. Kent knew this book would be helpful, so he purchased an extra copy to loan out. Let me know if you'd like to be on the "waiting list". (It's already on loan to one family and another is in line. But the wait should be short because it's a very quick read.)


Min said...

Put me on the list, I want to read it but based on what you said, I think I'll pass the story and skip to the end. It's always made sense to me that businesses and households should run in a similar type manner - organized, efficient and concerned about input from all parties involved.

Min said...

oh, and when I say I want to borrow it, that probably means not soon because you live very far away.