Bruce Feiler had just spent his first day at a family reunion, including an extended family dinner that dissolved into bickering. As he was talking to his Dad later that night, his Dad expressed a fear that the family was falling apart. It was that moment that led to Bruce researching The Secrets of Happy Families. He interviewed successful people in many industries on topics ranging from conflict resolution, to family meetings, allowances, and "the talk". He tested out their suggestions in his family, and in other families, before writing this book.
Bruce Feiler believes that there are three basic guidelines for happy families:
1. Adapt all the time.
2. Talk. A lot.
3. Go Out and Play.
Feiler uses those three guidelines as the framework of his book, dividing it into three sections. Within each of those three sections, individual chapters tackle more specific topics:
- family meetings and self-directed check-lists
- family dinner and other family traditions
- mission statements
- conflict resolution
- difficult conversations
- talking about sex
- love languages
- grandparent relationships
- home organization
- family vacations
- family reunions
ElCloud Thoughts: I have to admit that I can see the wisdom in many of the things that Bruce Feiler has written. However, as I was reading the book, I didn't feel greatly encouraged or warm-fuzzy. The book itself is more on the clinical and factual side, though Bruce Feiler does include a lot of anecdotes of his family and other families. This is not a Christian book - it is written in a neutral, non-faith-based style. But the tone wasn't my issue. I think I just kept feeling overwhelmed, as if I was doing EVERYTHING wrong, and I didn't have the time, money, or energy to revamp our family life and home systems that much.
Despite feeling overwhelmed, I was encouraged when I read the final chapter. Feiler said that he polled different people to see which points of the book appealed to them. No one was drawn to the same elements, not even his own wife. Some chose to ignore certain points and implement others. I think that's good advice. Pick just one area that needs the most help and focus on changing that one first. When that seems to be going well, you can tackle another area. Every family is different, and what works for some won't work for others. Likewise, every family needs different things. If your family is handling conflicts and chore times well, then don't try to change what's already working. But if you're struggling with family dinners, then try out Bruce's suggestions!
There will be some people who don't agree with Bruce's book. They may be convinced that a return to a 1950's style family life is the solution to their family's problem, and they'll disagree with Bruce's suggestion that parents allow more input from their children as they make decisions. However, there are a lot of families who will benefit from reading this book. Although it doesn't really address blended families, I think that it would especially be helpful in blended families trying to adjust and create their new family history and traditions.
In The Secrets of Happy Families, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler has drawn up a blueprint for modern families — a new approach to family dynamics, inspired by cutting-edge techniques gathered from experts in the disciplines of science, business, sports, and the military. Written in a charming, accessible style, The Secrets of Happy Families is smart, funny, and fresh, and will forever change how your family lives every day. Bruce is celebrating the release of his book with a family fun "Happy Family" Kindle HDX giveaway.
- A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
- The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the Litfuse blog on the 17th to see if you won.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."