Want a happier family? Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More is a guidebook full of tested ideas and tips. Bruce interviewed business leaders in a variety of fields to collect the best team-building and problem-solving techniques, and tried them out with his own family.
He suggests holding weekly family meetings and playing a game to kick them off. Ask three questions: What went well in the family this past week? What could we do better? What things will we commit to working on in the coming week?
If kids tend to squabble at dinner, he suggests giving siblings a joint activity 20 minutes prior to mealtime to reduce fights by reaffirming their connection. Are your kids not sharing? Dim the lights. Turns out mood lighting encourages social interaction and open conversation.
Instead of pushing sports on your child, Bruce advises, wait for your child to push you. Kids won’t learn how to drive themselves if they are always driven by parents. In addition, he advises, don’t link allowance to chores, so kids learn responsibility is just part of being a family.
There is no magic lever for happy families, but families can make their own happiness with lots of micro-steps.