As the cell is the unit of life, so the family is the unit of civilization.  The family is the only mechanism by which the capacity for love and civility can be passed on to the next generation.  As Aristotle noted: “It is characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, or just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living things who have this sense makes a family and a state.”


Advice on Family

1.  Do not have more than three children or less than two children.  Do not have any children until you are at least 25, and preferably don’t have children until you are 30.  Do not have children if you can’t afford to take care of them.  Do not have children if you have not completed your education or occupational training.

2.  Never allow a family member (sister, brother, mother, father) to live in your home in the first five years of your marriage.

3.  Never allow an adult family member to live in your home for an indefinite period.  All such arrangements should be the exception, temporary, and with a time limit set in advance.

4.  Once a month (Sundays are great) have a family day where members of your nuclear family (spouse and children) spend a day having fun together.  Do this as a ritual.

5.  Never attempt to borrow money from relatives, lend money to relatives, go into business with relatives, be partners with a relative, invest with a relative, or purchase property with relatives.

6.  Should necessity or emergency require that you borrow or lend money with a relative, then have a clear written statement about what is paid back and when.  Avoid gifts and vagueness in these matters.

7.  Avoid seeing members of your extended family (mother, grandmother, cousin, etc.) more than once per month, unless you actually enjoy such visits.  Avoid visits that are done out of duty.  When visits are done for duty reasons, attempt to structure an activity that you may enjoy.

8.  In disputes between your spouse/mate and your family or her/his family, side with your spouse...unless you are planning a divorce.

9.  Prior to the death of your mother, father, grandmother, and grandfathers, set up a special meeting with each during which time they should tell about your family roots:  i.e., the names, birth places, occupations, special talents, etc. of your distant relatives that you could never meet.

10.  Treat relatives as potential advisors, seek their opinions and reasoning, but do not communicate the message that you want or are willing to take their direction or directing.  Treat them as consultants.  Do not reject parental advice just to prove your independence, and don’t accept it to prove you’re a good son or daughter.  Finally, if you accept the advice, present it to your spouse as your idea and do not use its parental source as a persuasive device.

11.  If you hate or dislike a relative, or a spouse’s relative, then show this feeling by withdrawing from this person.  Don’t waste your psychic energy in arguing with them, trying to change them, or talking with others about them.

12.  Almost everyone has old and deep resentments (angers) at some family member (especially mother or father) for their past behaviors.  Handle this by using the on-off system; that is, either forgive them and live in the present, or hate them and cut off relations.  Anything in-between is destructive.

13.  Arrange your life so that in old age, when you may be ill and unable to work, that you can be self-supporting.  This will require considerable planning in your late thirties and early forties.  Don’t destroy your children’s adulthood by forcing them to be your caretakers because you did not plan for age related disability.

14.  Grandmothers must avoid criticizing how their daughters raise their children.  Grandmothers should even avoid helping their daughters or offering any unasked for advice.  Grandmothers should never use the word should.  When giving advice, the phrasing “you might find it helpful to try ____________” is the best format.

15.  When you encounter family problems, that is, problems with your spouse, children, parents or in-laws, seek a consultation with a professional early during the problem.  The therapist you seek should be either a licensed clinical social worker, licensed psychologist, or board certified psychiatrist.  He/she should have a family approach and should be inclined to see the whole family, or parts of the family, together in sessions.  If your problems persist for more than six months, while seeing a therapist, then fire the therapist.  Never bring a family problem to a person who does psychoanalysis, or insists on doing only individual therapy sessions.  Your therapist should appear curious, smart, extroverted, clear-speaking, practical, and fair.

16.  Don’t compare the accomplishments of one family member to another family member.  Avoid ever comparing brothers and sisters.

17.  Try to find the unique, positive attributes of family members and use these to praise them during conversations.

18.  Many families have a scapegoat, that is, a person everyone agrees to blame and dislike.  Don’t participate in family gossip and scapegoating; withdraw from these conversations or break the pattern by praising that person.

19.  While family is very important, you must have at least two good friends who are not relatives and who are not friends of your relatives.  Develop and cultivate these relationships.

20.   A biological connection is not always a good reason to be in a relationship.  If a family member is psychologically destructive, consider terminating the relationship and seek sustenance elsewhere.  You can’t make your parents, or grandparents, love you, and some are not fit to be loved.