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Family exercise

Image that your family are stranded in your home for an entire month. How will you survive? It is impossible to go out of the house because of some kind of “infectious” disease. Make a list of all family members and what each one can contribute to the family’s survival –  (physically, mentally, socially, spiritually).

The 4 leadership roles:

Stephen Covey in his book : The 7 Habits of highly effective families, write:

“Most of us have an innate desire to improve our families. We want to move from survival to stability to success and significance”. One way of trying to do this is to look at Covey’s leadership roles:


If we are careful observers, we can see our own weaknesses reappear in the lives of our children. Perhaps this is the most evident in the way differences and disagreements are handled. How important is it for us to realize that our day-to-day modelling is far and away our highest form of influence in our children, sometimes to the third and fourth generation. Our role modelling as parents to our children is our most basic most sacred, most spiritual responsibility. We are handling life’s scrips to our children – scripts that, in all likelihood, will be acted out for much of the rest of their lives

What is really at the centre of our lives – Who am I? How do I define myself? How does life work? How should I live my life?

The lens through which we look at life will profoundly affect our children’s thinking – whether we are aware of it and whether we want to have this influence or not.


This is about building relationships – it is letting people know that you care about them – deeply, sincerely, personally and unconditionally.

We are our children’s first source of physical and emotional security or insecurity, their feeling of being loved or being neglected. And the way we fulfil our mentoring role will have a profound effect on our child’s sense of self-worth and on our ability to influence and teach. Mentoring is about empathizing, sharing, affirming, praying and sacrificing.


Without some basic organizing, it is easy for family members to become like ships that pass in the night. The organizing role is where one align the structures and systems in the family to help accomplish what is truly important; family dinners, vacations, having a picnic, etc. Family members can depend on these structures and systems and this can give them a sense of security, order and predictability.


The 4 empowering principles:

  • Discern the overall situation- is the person in a receptive frame of mind? Not scolding or correcting all the time. Teaching by example is infinitely more powerful and lasting than precept teaching.
  • Sense your own spirit and attitude – Teach at a time when you have feelings of affection, respect and inward security – you cannot do this in an angry mood.
  • Distinguish between the time to teach and the time to give help and support – sometimes people need a rope or a helping hand not a lecture.
  • In the larger sense we are teaching all the time because we are constantly radiating who we are.

Taken from the book: Covey, S.R. 1997. The seven habits of highly effective families. London: Simon and Schuster.


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