Lesson 5 of 7 - evolve a high-nurturance family


Improve Your Family's Functioning

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/fam/guide5.htm

Updated  03-11-2015

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      This YouTube video describes the purpose of lesson 5 - raising the nurturance level (functioning) of your family. The video mentions eight lessons in thius self-improvement Web site: I've reduced that to seven.:

      This is one of a series of articles on evolving and enjoying high-nurturance families (Lesson 5). The series exists because the wide range of current U.S. social problems suggests that most families don't nurture their members very well. That suggests the epidemic effects of the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle proposed in this nonprofit, ad-free site .

  LESSON 5 - evolve a high-nurturance family

      Families exist to nurture - i.e. to fill their members' basic needs. Depending on many factors, families (like yours) range from low-nurturance (dysfunctional) to high-nurturance (functional). This lesson proposes how to significantly raise the nurturance-level of your family and help break the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle. 

      You'll get the most from this self-improvement lesson if you make significant progress on the prior four lessons. This Lesson pertains to all types of families. Lesson 7 extends this one to focus on high-nurturance stepfamilies. Effective parenting merits its own Lesson (6). Option - check off each assignment after you complete it to track your progress.

  Objective - learn how families "function," so you can assess and improve your family's nurturance level, and avoid passing on the [wounds + unawareness] cycle to your descendants.

       Option - keep a journal or log as you study these assignments to note your reactions and discoveries. Your log can provide a source of helpful awareness in the future.

Knowledge Check

      To begin, check which of these best describes you now:

__  I know all I need to know about how families "work" (function)

__  I know most of what I need to know about how families "work"

__  I don't know enough about how families "work"

__  The other adults in my family know enough about how families "work." (Yes / No / ?)

__  We're teaching our young people all they need to know about families ( Y  /  N  /  ? )

Now - get undistracted, and complete these assignments in order. Take your time!. Option - if you have any questions about families, jot them down now. See if this Lesson reveals the answers.

LESSON-5 "Assignments" - study these in order...

__ 1)  what's unique about family relationships?

__ 2)  what you already know about families (a quiz); and...

__ 3)  answers to questions adults should ask about families. Then...

__ 4)  review _ the vital difference between surface needs and primary needs (Lesson 4), and _ what all family members need. And learn...

__ 5)  the traits of typical high-nurturance families. Were you raised in one?

__ 6)  study the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle that your family may have inherited.

__ 7)  learn about family roles and rules - they promote harmony or discord.

__ 8)  review - perspective on personal and family boundaries. And study...

__ 9)  learn family-systems concepts, and how to benefit from them.

__ 10)  Learn how and why to make and use a family mission or vision statement. Do your adults know what you all are trying to accomplish with your family long-term?

__ 11Review why and how to make healthy family policies on grieving and anger.

__ 12)  How and why to hold effective family meetings - a potential source of satisfaction and pride.

      And learn about...

__ 13)  the hazards of maintaining family secrets - do you have any?

__ 14)  review - the impact of toxic vs. nurturing religion. (Lesson 1)

__ 15)  review - options for improving communications with adults and kids (Lessons 2 and 6)

__ 16)  distinguishing the three levels of family-relationship problems

__ 17)  review - these options for analyzing and improving (family) relationships (Lesson 4)

__ 18)  review this menu of common relationship problems and solutions (Lesson 4)

__ 19)  review these options for dealing with scapegoating, being a "black sheep," and/or bullying..

__ 20)  scan or read this perspective on problems with kids leaving home to live on their own 

__ 21)  Review these options or having "good enough" family gatherings and vacations after death, desertion, divorce, or other calamity.

__ 22)  avoid or resolve legal battles between family members

__ 23)  retake this quiz about families to see what you've learned here; and....

__ 24)  Now - decide if you want to use the ideas in this Lesson to improve your family's nurturance level.

NOTE that many of these ideas pertain to your inner family of personality subselves (Lesson 1, Part 3)

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - what are you feeling and thinking now? What did you learn from studying these ideas? Has anything shifted in the way you view your childhood family? Your present family? Your ancestors?

Knowledge Check

      Check which of these best describes you now:

__  I know all I need to know about how families "work" (function)

__  I know most of what I need to know about how families "work"

__  I don't know enough about how families "work"

__  The other adults in my family know enough about how families "work." (Yes / No / ?)

__  We're teaching our young people all they need to know about families ( Y  /  N  /  ? )

Compare your answers here to the Knowledge Check at the top of this page. Has anything changed?


      The basic question posed by this Lesson is: "Do you want to do anything to raise your family's nurturance level now?" Here are some options, using ideas from Lessons 1 thru 5:

  • teach all your adults about Grown Wounded Children and the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle, Then evaluate if it's affecting your family by reviewing your family tree for symptoms.

  • identify which of your members carry significant psychological wounds, and decide what to do about that. Pay special attention to wound 6: difficulty bonding and loving.

  • intentionally work to improve the effectiveness of communication among our family members.

  • discuss and agree on a family mission statement - and use it!

  • resolve any significant family-membership  (inclusion / exclusion) conflicts

  • evolve and implement a strategy to resolve or prevent _ loyalty conflicts, _ relationship triangles, and _ values conflicts

  • clarify who makes the important decisions in your family

  • clarify and implement a family policy about healthy grief

  • assess family members for symptoms of incomplete grief, and help each other finish any (lesson 3)

  • define and implement a family policy about feeling and expressing anger and frustration

  • educate family members on addictions, and confront any addicted members

  • review these options for dealing with black sheep, scapegoats, and bullying (not speaking)

  • experiment with periodic family meetings

  • make a family genogram and discuss it with all your members

  • teach members how to make and use structural diagrams. .

  • assess your family members for role confusion, role strain, rand role conflicts, and help each other correct any of these.

  • assess your family for significant secrets, and work together to eliminate the fears, guilts, and shame that cause them.

  • If you have kids in your family, invite all your adults to study and discuss Lesson 6 - effective parenting.

  • ask your other family adults to study and discuss Lessons 1 thru 5 or 6 in this online course.

      This list of family-improvement options is suggestive, not exhaustive. Notice your reaction to these options: Boredom? Skepticism, Indifference? Enthusiasm?. How important is your family's nurturance level to your  adults?


      This is the study guide for Lesson 5 of 7 - evolve a high-nurturance family. It provides basic information about family systems, structure, and dynamics that many adults don't know. The lesson starts and ends with a quiz to gauge how much you think you know about these vital family basics. This study guide ends with an array of practical ways you can use the ideas in online lessons 1 thru 5.

      The next two lessons build on this one - Lesson 6 proposes keys to effective parenting, and Lesson 7 outlines options for evolving a high-nurturance stepfamily.

Learn something about yourself - answer this 1-question anonymous poll.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?  

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