Elections make me cringe. Debates make me shudder. But the one event that irks me the most is the annual State of the Union address–and the accompanying hype, anger, and hate-mongering that erupts among ALL political ideologies.
So yes, I’m boycotting the TV. But this year, I’m not altogether avoiding the SOTU. Rather, I’m tuning into the state of a different union, one which is the basic building block of this nation in the first place.
I’m talking about my own.
Each little family–partners raising a child, a single-parent household, a blended family, a foster family, whatever–plays a huge role in society. In fact, in the wise words of Margaret Thatcher, “The family is the building block of society . . . encompasses the whole of the society.”
So if the families are doing well, the rest of nation should be on track. If not, well, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to blame politicians for our problems.
That’s why, every year, we should sit down as a family and have a talk about the state of our own small union.
How are we doing? Are we truly a union–or a bunch of people sharing living space? Are we moving forward together, or just co-existing (whether peacefully or not)? Are we so wrapped up in work, activities, electronics, and school that we’re not really communicating in any significant way? How do we deal with one another when we’re happy, or angry, or in disagreement?
What mistakes have we made? What needs changing? How can we work on them together–with no finger-pointing?
It’s also great time to redefine (or set) family goals. Where do we see ourselves in a year? Internally (within the family) and within the community? What are our expectations of each other? Uncommunicated expectations almost always become unfulfilled expectations, which wreak havoc within families and within the community.
That brings us to the matter of finances. Are we saving or spending? Are we on the same page about it? Are we open and transparent about where the money’s going? Do we need to redefine short and long-term financial goals, and maybe find some common ground?
The list goes on. To avoid the blame game or escalating any conflict, set rules of civility beforehand. Fighting’s not productive, but real change can happen when people agree to work together despite their differences.
The state of the country matters, sure. But equally important is the state of the families that make up that union. After all, if the little unions are in disarray, how can we expect the bigger nation to grow and prosper?
Tonight, even if you love to follow politics, consider spending a couple minutes analyzing the state of your own union. You might just be surprised at what you discover–and what you can accomplish.
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