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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families: A Review

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Paul Brownlow January 16, 2000 M.Ed. I-Falls Fall Semester 1999

The home room curriculum for the 1999-2000 school year at West Central Area centers around Sean Coveys book, The Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens. The students work through these seven habits on a daily basis with guidance from their teachers. The curriculum is designed to help students become more proactive, organized, and successful.

To coincide with that curriculum, our school principal decided to facilitate a parent group which would discuss Stephen Coveys The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. We convene before the monthly school board meeting and discuss one chapter each time. The group consists of fifteen people with a variety of different family experiences. Some of them have kids in the school system, some have kids that have already graduated from high school, and there are others like myself who are just starting their family.

Our first chapter talked about being proactive. I found this chapter interesting because of the stories the author includes. One story talked about a father and daughter who argued continually. Finally the father decided he was going to tell his daughter how she needed to change in order to live in his house. While he was waiting for her to come home, he started his own list of changes he was going to do. By the time his daughter came home he realized, he had more changes to make than she did. This story elicited a lot a discussion from the group. The book says we need to push the pause button and think before we act or speak. Many of us realized that we are not very good at doing this, especially at home.

Several of us said it is tough to respond appropriately in the heat of the moment, which according the author is the most important time because that is when the lesson is learned. If we react, we teach wrong behaviors, whereas, if we are proactive we teach our children how to handle situations in life appropriately. Our goal for that month was to become more proactive and make better use of our pause button, and we were to report on our progress at the next months meeting time.

The second discussion dealt with planning ahead. Some members of the group laughed because they did not complete their reading assignment, which contradicted the teaching of the second chapter. A major focus of this chapter was about developing a mission statement. One mother spoke up and said she felt that was going to be very difficult to accomplish. I agreed with here and said that was a sticking point in my own home room class. We agreed that it was tough to sell everyone on the idea of a mission statement because it seems to ideal.

In the book, one father talked about taking his family on a trip to Hawaii to write a mission statement. He gave everyone a copy of the book and told them they should read on the plane because they would spend time discussing it while in Hawaii. He said by the end of their vacation they had developed the principles which they felt should be included in their mission statement. No one in our group had a family mission statement written out that night, but we agreed we would work on developing one over the next month.

The November meeting was about making the family a priority in turbulent times. Covey opened this chapter with a quote from Oprah Winfrey when he was on her show talking about his book. She said, If you dont have the time for one night or at least one hour during the week where everybody can come together as a family, then the family is not the priority. Our group felt this was prevalent in most families. None of us felt we were bad families, but because of the number of activities available today, we are often out of the home doing something else. Sports, civic activities, and a multitude of other things seem to take up a large amount of our free time. We discovered that high school sports are very time consuming because of the practices, travel time, and games. A few older parents said there are so many more games played per week then when they were in school. They said having one game a week was the norm and two or three games a week was unheard of. I firmly believe that sports are important, but they also take a lot of time from the family. Although families are together at sporting events, they are not bonding like they would if they were alone at home.

I missed the December meeting because my family and I were involved in a serious car accident. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but it was very scary and reinforced the idea of family commitment. Often times people say the words, but do not act until something serious happens or it is too late. I was lucky enough to have another chance and hope to change and make my family the priority of my life. After an accident like that, you prioritize the important things in life. For me, the time spent working has come second to the time I spend with my wife and son.

The open forum on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families has been encouraging. I know there are things our family needs to improve upon, but it is great to discuss with others who are challenged by the same issues. When our group reflects on each chapter, we all realize the principles are nothing more than common sense. Sometimes common sense is forgotten when we are hurried, stressed out, or burned out because of the pressures of everyday life. This group has helped my family to slow down and take time for the small things which are just as important as everything else.

-- Anonymous, January 16, 2000

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