Tracing Your Family History

Are you in search of tracing back your ancestry, bringing your family closer together, and maybe even tracking down distance relatives?

Genealogy can be an incredible journey into your family history – one in which the learning never ends. A beginner may be searching for the meaning of their last name or wanting to learn more about one of their ancestors. A more experienced researcher loves the challenge of exploring new horizons. Once you acquire the basic knowledge, it can become a life long hobby. It can even become an obsession. Finding that first document or discovering the first member in your family tree is exciting and then you are hooked.

A key for any genealogist doing family history research is knowing how and where to search. Without this skill, you may become frustrated, aggravated, and just end up spinning out of control. Therefore, learn the basics on family history research, how to make sense of what you uncover, how to organize and record the information you collect and even how to use the Internet to discover more about your ancestors. Today, the internet is a terrific and highly recommended tool for family history research.

Below are some of the more common genealogy questions and the answers you need to get started in pursuit of your family heritage. This is what research is all about! Some of the same questions keep coming up, especially among newcomers who are starting to trace their family history.

How do I begin to search for my family tree? Determine what information you already have. Even a little information can get you started. Perhaps you have some old photographs, papers, documents, newspaper clippings, obituaries or a family bible with records of births, marriages and deaths. Start with you, your spouse and children. You will need full names, dates, place of birth, and your parent’s full name. Then you will want to do the same for your spouse. Remember to add the date and place of your marriage. Then record the information for each of your children. If they are married, add spouse and children to their family line. Once you have recorded all this material, it will be time to move on to the next generation. Keep in mind, what you learn about your family heritage is more important than how many generations back you can take your family tree.

Should I question other family members for clues? Yes, interview or otherwise communicate with your relatives; they can be a wealth of information. Start with your mother, father, and move backwards from there. This can be the most important step in researching your family tree. Be sure to connect with as many of your living relatives as possible, one day they may not be around and you would have missed a wonderful opportunity to pick their brain. Therefore, give them a call; send them an email or letter to explain what you are doing and asking for their help. You may be able to setup an appointment to meet or to discuss it by phone. Occasionally, time and distance make email or letters a more practical choice. Since this information is critical to your research, do not hurry through it. When working with others, be considerate and accommodating to work around their schedule. Collect names, dates and listen to their stories. Family stories begin with memories that can provide clues for further research. Be sure to ask specific questions. The best questions are open-ended ones. Avoid asking yes or no questions. Here are a few sample questions:

• What is your full name?
• Do you have a nickname?
• When and where were you born?
• What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
• When and where were they born? Their occupations?
• What is your earliest childhood memory?
• When and how did you meet your spouse?
• Where and when did you get married?
• What did you do for a living?
• What school did you attend and how many years?

When interviewing a relative it is important to become a good listener. Having a tape recorder available is a way to listen to the stories and pay attention; letting them know you are interested.

How do I obtain vital records? It was not until the early 1900’s that the United States started keeping vital records. However, you can obtain birth certificates, death records, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, naturalization, adoption and land records for each state, territory and county of the United States. Vital records usually contain the full name of the individual involved in the event, the date of the event, and the county, state, or town where the event took place. If you have internet access (highly recommended), visit vitalrec.com, they have a guideline on how to order the information.

Some important tips to keep in mind:

1. Keep copies of everything you find in your research. It may not seem significant now, but it probably will be in the future.
2. Make sure that you take into account possible alternate spellings of your surname as you are doing your researching.

How do I make a family tree? The definition of a family tree is a chart or table that shows the line of descent from an ancestor or earlier form, especially that of a specific person or family. You can download, view, save and print a variety of free family charts and forms. These include traditional standard family tree charts, fan and pedigree charts. Standard forms for collecting and documenting the family’s history include a family tree chart tracing paternal lines only, a family group sheet that documents all the facts of each family member, and family chart illustrating a family’s structure and process through multiple generations.

What are some different ways to do research free?

Free Genealogy Websites is a good place to search for your ancestors. Go to Google.com and type in Free Genealogy Websites.

Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet–has 270,000 + link for family history and other valuable information.

Olive tree Genealogy: Your Link to the Past. They have a Guide for Beginner’s in Genealogy that newbies may find helpful. Newcomers and experienced researchers will want to browse their immigrant ships passenger list at the Ships Passenger Lists Section. Olive Tree allows you to search for immigrant passengers on ships list: by country of arrival, by state of arrival, or by ethnic group. In addition, you will find other Genealogy and Family Tree Resources at this website. Be sure to take advantage of all the information.

• Public Library — Utilize the staff at the libraries. Librarians can be a great help in suggesting additional sources of information about your family. They can immediately direct you to resources that will provide answers to your search if you explain to them what you need. It is their job to know where the resources are located.

• Genealogical Society-your family history center or local public library may be aware of genealogical societies that meet in your area. These societies frequently offer classes and special presentations, and some provide mentoring.

Local Courthouse–research how to find family information through documents such as deeds; wills; birth, marriage, and death certificates.

As you know, it can be a lot of work trying to trace your family tree. Take advantage of all the resources out there. Do the preliminary research by gathering all the documents, family photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. available to you. Interview your relatives by asking specific questions and remember to take good notes. Once you have gathered a significant amount of information, the next step will be to organize it in a useable form. Personally, I believe this is easier with a computer. However, it is possible to do it manually too. Once you acquire the basics and move beyond the novice, genealogy becomes fun, interesting, exciting and even a lifelong hobby. It may even become an obsession. Enjoy this incredible adventure of tracing your family history.

 


Getting Married – Building Healthy Step-families

If your family is a “remarried family” or a “step-family” then you’re in good company. The experience of building a remarried or stepfamily is a common experience, not only for recovering people, but for the general population as well. There are lots of difficulties involved in putting together a stepfamily. One of the major difficulties is in the perception that a step-family is something less than desirable. Stepfamilies can be healthy.

There are some issues that are unique to stepfamilies that must be worked through to develop healthy stepfamilies. That doesn’t make stepfamilies necessarily problematic or pathological.

When we continue to hang on to the nuclear family as the “appropriate” family model, we use it to measure all families against it as the standard. When this is the case, we may emulate nuclear family attributes, behaviors, expectations that do not apply or are not appropriate for blended families. Without adequate information about effectively forming and nurturing step families, the dynamics of those new, and sometimes fragile families set them up for dissolution.

If we know that it is not typical that one’s new spouse automatically loves our child, then we may not expect that, and give him/her time to get to know and form attachments and bonding with that child. When we realize that we come from different family culture, we may be able to challenge our own notions that there is only one way to do things, and to allow for negotiation and development of new methods and traditions. When we know that children need to know a new step parent as a friend before they will accept them as a parent, we grant them to emotional room to do that and smooth the transition of blending those families. If we know that if we push them too hard and expect them to fall right into line, we may be setting them up to have conflicts with that spouse for the rest of their time in the family home.

Part of the problem is in not knowing that there is something to know. We may believe that since we were previously married, and previously parenting, that that is all we need to know. This is the biggest blunder of all. Knowing what to expect in combining families can be monumentally helpful. There is an information base from which to draw upon. “Normal” processes for forming remarried families have been described and defined. An example is that it is “normal” for ambiguous boundaries and membership issues to be present in forming step families.

Culturally, we haven’t had established patterns, rituals, or norms to help us negotiate the complex relationships involved in building remarried families. However, there are books, tapes, and counseling services available to help you negotiate these dangerous waters.

Just putting the two families together and hoping for the best is not the best approach. Denial of the probability of problems, is part of the difficulty in building remarried families.

Other major problems can occur when remarried families hold tight to the roles and rules of the old family. For example, some families draw a tight boundary around the new family, like a wagon train circling the wagons for protection against perceived threats from without. In a nuclear family the boundaries are clearer about who is part of the family and who is not. In a stepfamily a child’s non-custodial parent is still family to that child, as are all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins connected to that side of the family. Attempts by remarried families, to cut out biological parents and other extended family members is not only unrealistic but potentially damaging to the kids. Similar potential problems develop when competition between the step-parent and the step-kids occur over affection from the spouse/biological parent.

Some helpful solutions are offered by remarried families on the front line, who are negotiating, renegotiating, defining, refining, and constructing remarried family structures that work. The have the expectation that there will not be immediate love between the step-parent and step-kids. These families foster flexibility of family boundaries. Confusion and divided loyalties from the kids are expected. They understand the importance of adults behaving cooperatively in raising kids. Permeable, flexible boundaries smooth the transition into “stepfamilyhood”. Allowing kids to come and go between the households of the biological parent and step-families as agreed upon in visitation and custody (with minimal conflict) also helps to reduce the divided loyalties that kids naturally have with divorce and remarriage.

The sense of “belonging” may take three to five years to develop fully in most of the members of the family and longer if teenagers are involved. But a new family identity can emerge.

Gender roles can be revised to effect a smoother transition. Such gender roles place responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family onto women. This can pit step-mother against step-daughter, and wife against ex-wife. Role revision can involve each parent, along with their ex-spouse taking primary responsibility for raising or disciplining their own kids.

Healthy step-families anticipate the “belonging” questions involved in blending the two families. Children want to know how they are related to these new people, who their real family members are, how they will spend time with each party, whether they will still be loved with new people to share that love, and who is “really” in charge here? These issues must be continually discussed, to provide security and comfort throughout the transition. When children express their feelings, adults respond not in defensive ways, but in open, accepting, and supportive ways–even when they feel guilty or other uncomfortable feelings. In healthy step-families children are not expected to make adult decisions, especially about where they will live, custody, visitation, or remarriage.

While developing remarried families is difficult, the transitions can be made smoother by developing realistic expectation, befriending the children before attempting to parent them, and keeping in mind that there’s enough love to go around.

 


How To Create And Sustain Bonding In a Family Relationship

The family is the basic unit of society. No nation, they say, can be greater than the quality of its families. Family life, which had hitherto been revered, is facing a ferocious corrosive attack from various elements in the evolutionary process of man. Religious people believe it is the handiwork of the devil that the family is under attack these days.

We know that divorce rate is rising rapidly worldwide. In addition, delinquency among children is becoming the norm rather than the exception. There are no easy answers available. The inspiration and call for family activities that would grow bonding in the family is one way to assist in this effort.

Most people, when they look into the eyes of their spouse on their deathbed, realize that it is their marriage, the primary relationship in their life, which is eternally meaningful. Too many people realize in those parting moments that they should have done things differently. Intrinsically, we all know what is really important. However, we forget and get distracted.

The following activities were collected from a survey and have been found to be helpful:

• Taking Long Walks In The Evening Together: This is a crazily busy world. Some couples are all out there working to make a living. They have to rush out early in the morning and return home in the evening. A couple has reported that they have found taking a long walk in the evening around their neighborhood, holding hands, talking, sharing thoughts and plans about the future has helped them bond, sweeten their relationship and grow their friendship.

• Family Physical Fitness Activity: A couple credits coming together in the evenings to exercise and do other physical fitness activities as having been healing and supportive of growing their relationship. Physical fitness together as family or with spouse creates opportunities for communication, which has in turn enhanced bonding and improved emotional attachment. A couple has credited it with power to arouse sexual attraction as well as providing opportunity for the children to pay attention to what their parents are saying. Exercising as a family is a great way to stay in shape and spend time with the kids.

• Family Prayer: A family that prays together stays together. Several couples contributed this point. They have found out that doing everything they can to have the whole family coming together morning and night for family prayers and sometimes scripture study has helped them to see things the same light. This, they note, has helped in building up their connectedness.

• Family Home Evening: This is an evening in a week set aside for the family to come together to learn and to play. Family Home Evening is a program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which members believe is revealed to modern day prophets to support families in these trying times. The latter-day saints hold their program every Monday evening. The program of activities in a typical evening include singing, dancing, studying the scriptures, sports, cooking, a special meal together. Activities can be indoor or outdoor or both. A tradition of family home evening has greatly enhanced family ties and made our hearts desire the things of eternal life while finding great joy in spite of the challenges of family life.

• Eating Together: In a fast-paced world, this tradition is also fast fading away. However, several couples reported a growing attachment with each other as they assemble at meal tables at least once a day to share their meal. Family members are enjoying it so much that each time one member is not around, he or she is greatly missed.

• Doing Chores Together: Chores are chores. Nobody really likes them. Nevertheless, chores are chores and need to be taken care of. Couples have reported that coming together and taking care of family chores as washing dishes, cooking meals, cleaning up the rooms and compound has created fondness among them. In African societies where chores are seen as a woman’s beat, a number of wives report feeling so tender each time their husbands assist with chores that they are aroused sexually and have ended up obtaining mind blowing sexual intimacy afterwards. Men, if you have been missing getting your wife where you want her, why not try joining her next time out.

• Always Telling Your Family The Truth: A female contributor suggested that telling your family the truth even when it hurts is very helpful to building up bonding in the family. No matter how it hurts at the time, it is usually appreciated afterwards. It creates trust, which is supportive of family unity.

• Keeping The Commandments of God: Parents learning and keeping the commandments of God have been found to keep the family united. The children learn in the process and come to trust God and their parents. The family is God organized institution. This therefore stands to reason.

• Kiss and Hug Every Member Before Leaving Home And….: A man recommended that we hug and kiss every family member before leaving home regardless of how much in a hurry we are to catch up with job. He further recommended calling home or your spouse in the middle of the day just to ask how they or she is doing. He found this very exciting seeing how much it makes his wife and children happy.

 


Family Values – Are They Still Significant?

A culture is a mirror of society in which we get the glimpse of the language, way of life, social activities, and history; namely the culture is the thumbnail reflection of the society. Among various cultures of the world, Indian culture is marked by the highest degree of syncretism and cultural pluralism based on the family values.

Family values are pragmatic social beliefs that hold the joint and nuclear families to be the essential ethical and moral units of society. Family ethics are those that promote the family and its values as an institution. Although the phrase has become vague because of its shifting meanings, nowadays it is most often associated with social and religious conservatives.

Amidst all our social institutions, the family is perhaps the only one with which we all are familiar. As we follow our life’s path, our experiences within the family develops to some strong bonds. Within the family context even lies some paradoxes, however most of us hope for love and support within the family. Absence of family values in a family equates to a haven in a heartless world, i.e. the family can also be a place of violence and abuse.

In fact, a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dining table, but by the love, care and respect you show for the other family members, by the memories you share with each other, by the commitment of time to each other and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit. Each family member has to understand that ‘Love’ is a continuum with no discernible starting point.

We Indians have managed to preserve our established traditions, while absorbing the new ones from invaders and immigrants, and spreading our cultural influence to other parts of the world. The American singer “Katy Perry”, who on October 23, 2010 tied the knot with comedian “Russell Brand” in India as per the Hindu tradition and the salutation ‘Namaste’ of the US President “Barack Obama” to all the Indians during his recent three days official visit to India in November 2010 exemplifies the impact of Indian culture around the world.

Although nuclear and matriarchal families too are becoming common in urban areas, traditional Indian family values are still highly respected, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm since ages. Myriads of Indians have their marriages arranged by their parents and other respected family members, though with the consent of the bride and the groom.

Every family has a story that narrates itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are strictly focused on, others gets dropped, and there is often debate about what really transpired and whether it was good or bad for the family. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still a belief that this is the story of our family. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the insignia that the family hangs its identity around.

On one side the elders are strictly pondering over the issue of diminishing family values among their clans, blaming the modernisation and urbanization as the root cause; whereas the progenies of those elders too are bewildered over the same issue. Finding suffocated amidst the orthodox family values, they want to establish a different independent world for themselves; but are also willing to not to hurt their elders, hence agree to keep alive the family values within the restraints of social and religious assimilation.

Thus in modern times the family gets drifted on to the high sea of bewilderment. In this voyage the question that runs through every mind is, ‘had the winds always blown so strongly as now? Had the currents always been so powerful making the family and independent values so fragile to navigate a separate course?

As long as the spell of love, care, respect, responsibilities and proportional flexibility lasts, the families will tend to have a strong spiritual base that facilitates everyone to work together in times of stress.

 


Talking to Your Family About Your Addiction

One of the most difficult tasks any person recovering from an addiction has to face is talking to their loved ones about their addiction. How much do you tell them? What do you do when they demand details on every substance (some of which you might not remember or care to talk about) that you have ever used? What do you do if they don’t want to talk to you at all? Here are some practical tips that can help you navigate some potential pitfalls as you cross the bridge to rebuilding relationships.

1. You are not the best person to educate your family about addiction. Nobody knows you quite like your family, so talking to parents, siblings or even adult children about your addiction seems like the most logical course of action. It is important to remember that while you may have been in a treatment program or attending Twelve Step Recovery meetings, your family may remain uninformed or confused about the causes of addiction, effects of specific chemicals, and the effects of addiction on the family. The emotional baggage that is created when addiction is present in the family may take months to years and patient progress to resolve. There are many excellent websites, treatment centers family programs, and Twelve Step Recovery programs for family members (Alanon, Alateen) that can help them learn about addiction. Stick to very general descriptions with the caveat that the most important thing is that you are willing to take whatever actions are necessary to prevent relapse.

2. In some ways, talking to friends first may be a helpful training ground in learning how to talk to your family. Friends can often be more objective and point out potential trouble spots with the information you want to share. In Twelve Step Recovery programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) and other support groups, sponsors and group members will share their experiences and coach you through those first delicate moments. Try writing your thoughts in a letter format and read it to a trusted friend. Remember that the first rule in talking to your family is to Do No Harm.

3. It is normal for your family to feel hurt, angry, or ashamed about your addiction. Your family may feel a profound sense of disappointment in you because of your addiction. It is important to let them know the anger they are feeling is completely natural and that they should feel free to talk openly about it. Families need to know that your addiction is not their fault. If emotions are still too raw on either side for discussion to be productive, professional help may be necessary. Professional counselors, psychologists, clergy, or treatment center family programs are potential options to help mediate some of the early discussions. Support groups or Twelve Step Recovery programs for family members (Alanon, Alateen) can also assist in helping family members process their emotions and learn new coping skills.

4. Explore your motivation for beginning this discussion. Are you trying to help them understand your commitment to recovery or are you trying to alleviate guilt? What are your expectations of the discussion? It is unlikely that you will find immediate or unconditional acceptance of either your sincerity or commitment towards sobriety. Avoid placing conditions on your family such as “I can’t remain sober unless you forgive me or help me get back on my feet again.” Families are used to addicts and alcoholics making unreasonable demands for time, resources, and affection as conditions for abstinence, only to see their loved continue or resume using chemicals. Remember, your continued actions towards maintaining your recovery will do more to convince your family than anything you say.

5. Learning communication skills (which means both listening and speaking) is an important part of taking action. You may not even realize that past communication styles have hindered recovery in the family. Many families experience the “elephant in the living room” phenomenon, in which everyone talks around the addict or alcoholic, while never addressing the chemical use or behaviors directly. Assertive communication involves the use of “I” statements such as “I feel angry and fearful when you do not include me in family discussions”. Remember to be patient. Family members who dealt with poor communication and difficult behaviors while you were active in your addiction may not initially appreciate your new communication skills. Practicing both listening and speaking assertively with your friends, sponsors, and support group members can again be very helpful. If you and your family continue to struggle with communication, seek professional help as mentioned earlier.

6. Continue to work a recovery program. Families may initially be resentful that someone else is able to help you remain sober when their best efforts seemingly failed. Spouses and children may not understand how important your recovery activities (support group meetings, exercise, healthy diet, working with others) are to on-going sobriety. Balance is hard to achieve in early recovery. Feedback from support group members, friends, and open discussion with families focused on needs versus wants can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

While family relationships can be a major stressor for a newly recovery alcoholic or drug addict, they can also be great rewards for on-going sobriety. Family recovery often parallels the recovery experience for the addict or alcoholic. Allow your family to experience their own process of recovery. Your example of reaching out for help is the best gift you can give them.

 


Family Meetings – How to Talk, Listen, and Strengthen Your Family

A family meeting is a group discussion of events, feelings, changes, plans, intentions, rules, expectations, praise, support and whatever else the family can think of to discuss. The important thing is that the whole family sits down together at a set time and focuses on the meeting. You may find that pre-school children have difficulty sitting through this process, so they may have to be included only for part of the meeting. Or, it may be best to hold the meeting with children who can contribute after the little ones have gone to bed. Some teens will balk at having to spend their time with younger siblings, or having to discuss family issues that don’t directly relate to their immediate needs. But if you establish this as a routine part of your family life, the objections and obstacles will diminish with time as each child and parent realizes the advantages.

Advantages of Family Meetings

Family meetings strengthen families by helping each child and each parent learn how to appropriately express feelings and concerns. It also gives family members an opportunity to practice listening and talking skills and to learn the arts of negotiation and conflict resolution. As well, family meetings are a concrete demonstration of the importance of your family and they give each family member an opportunity to provide, or to seek, shelter with one another.

As they grow older, children and youth learn that they can broach difficult issues in a non-hostile manner. And, parents learn that their children have important issues and can offer solutions when given the opportunity to present them appropriately.

Heather told me about how family meetings affected her ability to relate to her parents.

Heather’s Story:

Heather, age 21, is a student nurse about to graduate. She hopes to work in a Third World nation and wants to hold off marriage and children until she is older, “like maybe 30” (here I go feeling old again). Heather grew up in a family of two parents, an uncle who lived in a suite that was semi-detached from the house, and she has a younger sister and an older brother.

Heather told me that her family always had family meetings. She says that she can remember her mother putting crayons and paper on the table to keep her younger sister occupied while the others held their discussion and how proud she was that, at age 6, she was old enough to be a full participant, rather than an annoying observer, like her 3 year old sister.

“We had family meetings on whatever nigh us kids had nothing else going on, so it generally changed at the beginning of each school year and after Christmas since those were the times when mom signed us up for extracurricular activities. We would have them after the dinner table was cleared. We took turns taking notes, and we took turns opening the meetings. When we were little, it was mostly about mom and dad telling us what was going on in the week. I really liked that because I’m not a very spontaneous person by nature and that helped me to feel like I had a handle on the my life.”

Heather found that the tone and purpose of the meetings changed as she and her siblings got older.

“When we started to get allowances and to want to do things with our friends, we used family meetings as a place to negotiate money and curfews. My brother and I would try to unite for more money or later curfews, but it never really worked for us. Mom and dad had their rules and standards and they stuck to them. When we had problems with my uncle, we had family meetings that included him and we were able to work the problem through.” (The uncle had period of alcohol abuse that was a time of difficulty for the whole family).

I asked Heather what she got out of the family meetings.

” What I liked best was that I talked with my parents more than most of my friends did. That didn’t seem very cool at the time, but because we knew we could bring up any issues in a calm and team-like atmosphere, we just got in the habit of doing it. Now that I’m older and on my own, I feel that my family is my support team because I am used to talking to them first. I think we have informal family meetings now, mainly through email. One of us will present an issue or concern in our lives, and copy it to everyone else. We get feedback and support and ideas from each other. Most of my friends are replacing that kind of family closeness and support with friends, but my family is still my number one place to go when I need to talk.”

About a month after the interview, Heather telephoned me and told me she had been thinking about it and that she realized that there was something else she really liked about family meetings.

“We used our meetings as a sort of announcement place. So, if I got a good grade in one of my worst subjects, or my brother had something really exciting happen at school, we would tell about it and everyone would clap. I didn’t get it at the time, but when I look back, I can remember how good I felt to be appreciated by my parents and my siblings. Brothers and sisters don’t often say nice things to each other when they’re kids, but family meetings gave us a chance to do that for each other. I don’t think most of my friends got that kind of formal acknowledgement from their families.”

Historically Speaking

Looking through history, it occurred to me that the prototype for today’s family meeting was the famous, and perhaps mythological, Round Table of King Arthur’s court at Camelot. I thought it would be a good example here because basically, according to the legends, the King took a bunch of quarrelling Knights (none of which was noted for his communication skills and all of whom wanted to be first and win the most) and gave them all an equal voice in decisions that impacted the kingdom and in deciding how to allocate the resources. The Knights dialogued and used verbal problem solving skills to sort out their various problems. Arthur, as King, was the final arbitrator in conflicts in which they could not come to agreement, but that is just how it is in family meetings where the parents have to be have the final word.

Anyway, the Round Table was a great improvement on the Knight’s former style of conflict resolution, which had been drawing swords, fighting to the death, killing siblings and other rivals, and storming castles. The pay off to the ordinary citizens, was that they didn’t have to live with the Knights in charge of their area conscripting them into service when they needed to raid a neighboring Knight’s village, and the money that was formerly used for war, could be used for the minimal social services available at the time (building bridges and barges and what not).

This same process works in family meetings. Instead of family members arguing and working things out individually, most of the family rules can be negotiated at the family meeting, with everyone having some input at the same time. And, when the entire family is involved in the decision making about how to allocate family resources, then there is less likely to be argument later when individuals realize that the decision isn’t working so well in their favor.

If a bunch of rowdy Knights who were used to resolving conflict with a sword could learn to use this format for resolution, think what your children can learn in the same way.

 


The Advantages and Challenges of a Family Owned Business

Family Business account for over 80% of all US businesses, contribute 50% of our Gross National Product and provide half our workforce. However only about 10% of family businesses make it to the third generation due to the unique challenges family companies encounter.

Starting a Venture with your Family…

There are certain advantages to starting a family venture:

– Initial costs and losses are easily shared.
– Later success benefits the family as a whole.
– Enables the family to be together.
– Family may trust each other more than outsiders.

However, there are many challenges which come up during a start-up venture that need to be addressed:

Tips for Spouses jointly running and starting a business:

— Follow business rules; romance is for non-business hours.
— Clearly define each spouse’s role.
— Accentuate each other’s talents.
— Keep business and personal life separate- understand the inherent conflicts of interest.
— Set strong ground rules and understand you won’t always agree.
— Define your expectations specifically and clearly.
— Set aside family time.

– Involve young family members in the business for fun, short tasks and jobs.
– Have a system for recognizing and rewarding hard work and accomplishments of family.
– Understand clearly what the business relationships of Family are.
– Have a solid Business Plan which clearly defines the company structure, responsibilities, roles, strategic direction and so forth.
– Clearly identify who is the lead entrepreneur.
– Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each family member.
– Understand each family person’s business experience and background.
– Establish how much money each family will contribute.
– Agree up front how equity will be divided.
– Honest and clear communication between family.
– Professional, business environment and structure.
– How and where non-family will be incorporated into the venture.

If You Join an Early Stage Family Venture…

Advantages for family persons joining a new family venture are numerous:

– Family can help and are inexpensive during the development period.
– Family wants the opportunity to help the business as it benefits the family as a whole.
– Flexible hours, days and pay are attractive to family member initially, using minimum resources.
– The business brings family back together.
– Family members join the family venture because they are frustrated with their current work place and environment.

Issues to consider for an early stage family Venture:

– Largely interpersonal issues. Experience role reversals.
– Resentment can build if a family member isn’t adequately challenged and rewarded.
– Issues concerning power, rivalry and jealousy are common between family members.
– Take in consideration a family member’s personal interest, skills, experience and training when assigning areas of responsibility.
– Define, exactly, each family member’s area of responsibility.
– Define who each family member is accountable to, as well as, for.
– Determine compensation structures- salary, bonus and equity stakes.
– How will a disagreement be handled?
– What will be done if a family is not contributing?
– If a family member wants out, what is the buyout plan and continuation plan?
– Are you going to allow family members to be non-participating, passive investors in the business?

Best Advice: Defining upfront the various rules, expectations and structure unique to a family business is vital for its success. These unique requirements need to be well developed and delineated in the Company Business Plan and continually discussed in periodic family meetings. This way, every family member feels they are vital and contributing to the overall strategic direction and future of the family venture.

Joining a Family Company As a Mature Business…

This can be the biggest challenge for a family member: Where do I fit in a Family Business which has been in operation for a period of time and/or for successive generations? Some characteristics and challenges to consider for a later stage/ mature family business:

– Having a policy that everyone starts at the bottom and works his or her way up through the ranks no matter their experience level, can initially set back family members joining the existing enterprise. However, they will soon realize it is very important not to show favoritism between family members and non-family employees. This nips in the bud issues of favoritism, entitlement, jealousy and resentment.

– Family members can sometimes be transient, interim or temporary employees to help during seasonal demand, a particularly tough business environment or during high growth periods. This phenomenon can increase spirit de corps, but it can also cause strife. Again, having family meetings to decide such matters and ensuring the majority is on board with bringing in temporary family help, is critically important.

– Some family members may use the business as a stepping stone on a career path or starting their own venture. Planning for this potential loss and contingency should be part of every family business’s Management Plan. Also, establishing non-compete rules upfront and protecting the proprietary nature of the business if a family member moves on should also be part of the Company’s Planning Structure.

– The issue of the family successor is huge in a mature family enterprise. How will a family business choose its next successor? Is there room for the next generation? What are the expansion options for family members? Is the Company growing enough to support new family blood? Does the current management structure and style permit the flexibility and latitude the next generation seeks? This all speaks to the importance of having well developed; family- contributed Business Planning in order to maintain successive-success for future generations. This phenomenon becomes more urgent and important in maturing family operations. We deal with this future outlook issue in subsequent section in detail, along with conflicts, limitations and issues faced by a family enterprise.

Advantages a mature stage family business enjoys are numerous, but the following are common, and often, keys to success:

– Each family member is contributing to the overall benefit of the entire family.
– Family members can enjoy making and reaching goals together,
– Be a member of a very special team which is very close knit.
– Everyone pitches in to do the hard work- getting things done, that “need doing”.
– Family teamwork translates into identifiable and quantifiable progress.
– A feeling among family that is “our business”. It is “what we do”. It is all about ownership and legacy.
– Special attitude shared by family members pushes them to work hard for the success of the business.
– Bringing in new life, new skills and added experience into the maturing business.
– Mature family companies often have and keep market advantage and competitive edge as new generations often ensure the company doesn’t stagnate.

 


Family Therapy

A child’s poor schoolwork may be a cry for help in family relationships. If the family’s request for help is ignored, the school may be left with a refractory educational problem and an angry child who may continue to fail until someone finally gets the message. In most instances, when children fail in school, some form of family therapy is warranted.
The goal of family therapy is to change structures and processes in the family or in its environment so as to relieve existing strains. Family diagnosis based on living systems theory makes it possible to determine whether pathology lies in a family as a whole, in one or more individual members, or in a suprasystein, such as an economically disadvantaged neighborhood or a school with limited resources.

The range of interventions available to families is considerable. The health, mental health, social service, pastoral care, and educational systems all deal with family problems. The field of marriage counseling has specifically focused on one aspect of the family, and family service agencies handle all aspects of the family. For faltering families the marital relationship is the most important locus: marriage counseling or marital couple therapy may be useful. For families with more serious problems, self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Parents Without Partners, and Parents Anonymous are available in most communities. Child psychiatrists deal with the range of child, adolescent, and family problems.

The fit between clinical resource and a family is critical. Ethnic and economic factors may override psychological issues. Every clinical resource sets some limit on the range of factors it can work with in both diagnosis and therapy. These limits evolve out of the history peculiar to a given clinical setting, the training backgrounds of professionals, the socioeconomic sur¬roundings, and the nature of the social pressures.

Motivating Families for Therapy

Professionals should be sensitive to the misunderstanding, hesitation, and fear in family members as they approach help.

Each family member’s level of sophistication about psychological problems and openness to using a mental health resource varies. At the least education of the mem-bers of the family is required so that an intellectual understanding of the reasons for working with the family can be achieved. This step often is omitted with resulting misunderstandings.

Troubled families are the most likely to lack insight and even the strength to engage in family therapy. Their defensive maneuvers may he so extreme that engaging the family in therapy may depend upon equally skillful maneuvering by the therapist or the external pressure of agencies, such as the schools and the courts. If given a choice, many of these families would either drop out or limit their involvement to supporting treatment of the identified patient. Their denial and projection are particularly difficult to handle.

Ferreting out the family’s expectations of therapy is an important step toward assessing their motivation For change. For example, because dominated families involve both family and individual psychopathology, they often lodge their concerns upon a single identified patient. The other family members may not be disposed to see themselves as a part of that person’s problem and certainly not as the focus of therapy. When an attempt is made to involve the family, the parents may withdraw and look for someone who will “help”. the family member identified as a patient. As a strategy, the therapist may need to appear to join the family in its efforts to change the symptom bearer as a means of involving the entire family with the passage of time.

Conflicted families usually, require intensive family therapy in addition to consultation to other systems. such as the schools, social services, and law enforcement agencies. Chaotic families are the most difficult to engage in family therapy because their views of reality are not congruent with their social milieu. Hospitalization, medication, and consultation to other agencies may be necessary. in order to provide a foundation for family therapy.

A delicate issue in motivating families for treatment is how to separate a clinician’s responsibility to assist the family from the family’s responsibility for change. This is a problem especially when other agencies are involved with the family. For example, both school personnel and parents may look to a clinician for answers about a child. In these circumstances the clinician must carefully keep the child and the family in the position of responsibility and work through them for inter-system negotiations. Unsuccessful management of this issue can make the clinician a scapegoat by permitting both the parents and school personnel to expect that the therapist is responsible for changing the child.

From the educator’s point of view, it is important to he aware of the complicated role of the family in a child’s school problems over which educators and parents find themselves in conflict. Some parents obtain satisfaction from this fight, because they were embittered by their own past unhappy school experience and find this opportunity to retaliate. The child has an especially important role to play in this manipulative struggle. In the battle over who will control the helping process, if the school and clinical team are not coordinated, a family can find a weak link and defeat both. An effective position for school personnel in these situations is to recognize that no one can help the child until everyone works together.

 


Best Practices For A Family Office

A family office may have many purposes, ranging from helping younger generations understand how to handle wealth responsibly to simply ensuring that bills are paid on time. Just as every family is different, every family office will also be unique.

However, while the needs of a given family may vary, successful family offices have certain qualities in common. These practices allow offices to provide the very highest levels of service to the families whose affairs they oversee.

First, a family office should align its goals with those of the family. The best family offices will provide independent and objective advice. This means that managers should only receive compensation directly from their clients, and that they should take care to work with other professionals who can say the same when engaging outside support. While the services offered “in-house” will vary, the staff should make sure that any outside services they seek are also provided by professionals with transparent and independent compensation structures so that such advice or work is unbiased.

A superior family office will not handle any one of its many services in isolation. One of the largest benefits an office can provide is coordinating financial or legal decisions in the context not only of an individual’s overall affairs, but also those of several generations, the members of which may have competing or complementary goals, interests and needs. Though a given office may or may not handle all of the services described in this article, the staff should integrate all the services it handles directly, as well as any work done by other professionals that the office oversees.

A basic but essential area covered by many family offices is the day-to-day administrative tasks that arise for one or more family members. Such tasks may include payroll and supervision of household staff, bill payment and bookkeeping services, arranging travel and coordinating family events, managing real estate or property, and keeping track of appointments and meetings. The support staff’s size and complexity will depend on the family’s needs. In most families, some members will rely on the office a great deal, and others relatively little. Family offices need to be sure that they have sufficient staff to keep up with the family’s concerns and that rules are in place to protect the privacy of the members who do use such services. Recordkeeping tasks may also be coordinated with the staff handling other sorts of work; for example, ensuring that employment taxes are handled properly for domestic workers or that charitable contributions are documented properly for the family’s tax preparer.

Wealth management services commonly comprise a large portion of a family office’s responsibilities. This will often involve selecting, overseeing and, if necessary, replacing investment managers or investment management firms. Since many families spread their assets among more than one investment management firm, it is crucial that the staff oversees these third-party managers as a group in order to understand each manager’s piece of the larger pie. Ideally, the office will create and maintain detailed guidelines covering the family’s investment strategy, asset allocation and long-term goals, such as educational or retirement savings plans. A good family office will also cultivate an understanding of proper due diligence procedures. If the in-house staff is not qualified to fully understand big-picture wealth management decisions, the office should evaluate and hire a trustworthy wealth manager to provide objective advice.

A bridge between wealth management and administrative tasks may be financial accounting and reporting. Providing maximum transparency and timely access to data is increasingly essential for family offices, but doing so can require a significant investment in staff, technology or both. The reports needed to review investment managers’ performance, the reports required for tax compliance, and those that are most useful to the family in managing their cash flow may include overlapping data, but will not be precisely the same. Some offices rely on third-party custodians to handle such reporting; others dedicate staff to handle such matters in-house. Either way, providing regular reports and timely answers to on-the-spot questions are central goals for most family offices.

Tax planning and preparation are tasks that few family members will want to handle themselves, given the complexity and changing nature of the tax code. To keep pace, many offices rely on one or more expert advisers to identify issues and coordinate strategy for the family’s overall tax concerns. These issues may range from estate and gift tax strategies to the timing of capturing a capital gain or loss. The family office should manage these issues proactively and regularly, whether that means scheduled meetings with outside advisers or investing in an in-house tax expert.

Estate planning should also go far beyond the tax consequences involved. Tax-saving strategies are one element of an effective plan, but the needs of the family, the desire for a charitable legacy and concerns about heirs’ future security can all factor into the equation. Thorough estate planning may involve some combination of a legal professional or team, tax experts and insurance agents, among others. The family office will need to evaluate and coordinate these professionals, and guide family members through the process of creating, updating and executing an estate plan that synthesizes many diverse elements.

A family office may also oversee insurance consultation for lifetime needs, including disability, property or liability insurance concerns. It is important to continually evaluate what coverage is needed, whether existing coverage is appropriate and efficient, and whether there are coverage gaps that family members should address. If the family has one or more business interests, the office may also cover business insurance needs. This will likely depend on the extent to which the office staff is involved in managing a closely held family business. Some offices will answer questions or provide requested feedback about the family business; others will have a more direct hand in its management. A family office may also serve as a useful resource for members of older generations who wish to create an effective succession plan. The office may oversee the creation of a buy-sell agreement, coordinate the change in oversight or ownership with family members’ retirement or estate plans, or oversee an objective valuation of the business prior to a transfer. Placing the business in its proper context within the family’s larger state of affairs will allow family members to reap the largest benefit from their business over time.

 


The Reasons Why Family Is Important In Life

Family is the most important and valuable gift that god has given us. It is the first lesson in relationships with others. Family is really an important word. It means to feel secure, to have someone who you can count on, whom you can share your problems with. But it also means to have respect for each other and responsibility.

What family means to me is love and someone that will always be there for you through the good times and the bad. It is about encouragement, understanding, hope, comfort, advice, values, morals, ideals, and faith. These things are all important to me because it makes me feel secure and happy inside regardless of what is going on in my life. This is one of the main reasons why the family is important in our life. Here in this article it is important to emphasize on the importance of family in our everyday life.

Utmost Protection and Security

Family is important because it provides love, support and a framework of values to each of its members. Family members teach each other, serve one another and share life’s joys and sorrows. Families provide a setting for personal growth. Family is the single most important influence in a child’s life. From their first moments of life, children depend on parents and family to protect them and provide for their needs. Parents and family form a child’s first relationships. Family provides all members with security, identity and values, regardless of age. When a member of the family feels insecure or unsafe, he turns to his family for help. He learns about his sense of self and gains a foundation for the rest of his life. This foundation includes the family’s values which provide the basis for his own moral code. Spending time with family shows individuals the value of love, appreciation and open communication.

Following family traditions showcases the importance of family, as well. Family traditions are experiences that families create together on a regular basis, whether these involve holidays, vacations or even attending religious services together. Not only do these experiences create memories for years to come, they also give family members a stronger sense of belonging. Families bond together and make each member feel important.

First step of receiving basic values of life

A family is the first school in which a child receives the basic values of life. He learns good manners in the family. The morals and values learnt in family become our guiding force. They make our character. They lay the foundation of our thinking. I feel fortunate to be born in a family where values are inculcated in early childhood. Family is an important and strongest unit of society. It holds great importance in social life. A society is made up of families. Our family has been known for discipline and values. We give great importance to values and morals in life. Since our early childhood we are taught to respect the elders and love the children. We learnt the lesson of punctuality and honesty from our grandfather. It is due to the good education of our grandparents that we could excel both in sports and education. Since our childhood we have been put into the habit of rising early in the morning. This has a natural effect on our health and physical fitness.

Making a right choice in choosing the right life partner family values influences each walk of our life. It is high time that family values be protected and be treated as a tool to eliminate corruption, hunger, inequality, and crime and hatred in our society.

To shape a child’s future

The family is your blood and they are the people who accept you for who you are, who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what. The family is one and only place where your life begins and love never end. You may have lots of people in your life, but you won’t find a single person who cares the most exactly same as your parents. Some of you may not agree with me, but this is the truth that one day you will realize this by your own. A family is the only place where children study a lot after school. In school, teachers teach children about the subjects which will help them to find a good job in future. But in the home, Family teaches children about habits, discipline which not only help them to find a job but also help them to live a perfect life in future. So the family is very important for kids. When babies come out from mother’s womb, they see their parents first and thereafter they spent most of the time with their family until go to school. During that 3 or 4 years is really important for babies to get to know some basic habits from parents, sisters or brothers. So on that period, they get to know many things from family. None of you going to teach bad habits for your baby, I believe. Parents have to be careful in actions in front of their babies because your baby learns habits and discipline from you only.

This is one of the main reasons why the family is important in our life. This is one of the great advantages of family and none of us ever realize this at any time. You may have lots of friends or relations or office mates. They will definitely be with you in your happy times or any successful achievements. But, your parents or sisters or brothers are the only ones will stay with you in your hard and difficult times. Your parents are the only one who understands you much more than any other people do in the world. Because they are your creators and they are the only ones traveling with you from the beginning. So they understand your feelings and always there for you whenever you need someone abundantly. This is the power of family. There are many people can help you, but the family will help you whenever you are alone.

Helps building an ideal society

A perfect family is a great example of the whole society. Father, Mother, children all of them have to work in order to build a perfect family. If any one of them failed then the whole family collapsed. This happens very much nowadays. The good name of the whole family ruined by a single member of the family. That is really sad but nothing to do for that. But if every family member works hard and builds an optimal family, then they are a good example of that whole society. Family impacts very much in society and society impacts very much in the country. So an ideal country not only builds by the government but also each and every family member. So each family is the principal key to the society. This is why the family is important in our life.

Family values are a set of unwritten rules and codes that creates and helps build our perception, vision towards society and many things that we face in our day to day life. Strong family values can instill greater clarity in decision making regarding our life and leads to a relatively easier and more balanced life. Giving strong values as a parent not only protects a child but also create a civilized conscious citizen and help move society towards a more harmless tomorrow. Strong family values can help check all the moral and ethical corruption in various walks of life which otherwise ultimately contributes to inequality poverty crime and what not.

In today’s hard and fast world the most successful person are those who can take quick decisions about what they want from life. Family value that helps you distinguish what is morally correct and what suits your value system. Today the single largest task in hands of parents is protecting their children from outside influence which are majorly negative in nature. Injecting strong family values in child since childhood is one such measure that can ensure their safety in a time when direct supervision of child has become near impossible…