What is a “Family Framework”?
A “framework” is a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text. In construction, “framing” is building the skeleton of a building that will hold the floor, walls, and roof. In writing, an outline is a framework for an essay or research paper.
When I use “framework” in the context of family, I’m talking about a set of ideas about who you are as a family. When we were about to have our first child, we decided what it means to be a Montalbano. Once a couple agrees on the framework for their family, there aren’t so many little decisions to make every day. When an issue arises, parents discuss it, and how that issue fits into the framework.
Here’s an example of part of our framework: the married couple is already a family (that’s biblical), and children are an addition/extension of that family. Babies need to get on a schedule that doesn’t disrupt life to the point there is chaos. We used a parent-led schedule for all four of our babies, and they were sleeping 6 hours/night by 6 weeks of age. (We used the Baby Wise books by the Ezzos to learn about this – check out their website.) It was miraculous, and it helped us be joyful with each new baby!
Creating that framework–at first–seemed overwhelming. Fortunately, we had a basic framework we could build on: we are Christians, and we live according to biblical principles. My parents were Christians–they raised my three brothers and me with biblical principles, and they did a great job.
I befriended a woman at church–Grace–who had three young children close in age. She constantly worked with them and taught them how to behave–how to treat each other and how to treat her and their father with respect, even in the midst of disagreements.
So, I asked her questions, and she was happy to tell me what she did, and why she did things. As she explained these things to me, I began to see she wasn’t just “going with the flow”: she had thoughtfully made decisions about how to raise her children. One day, I asked her how she dealt with sibling rivalry, and she said, “Sibling rivalry isn’t a necessary part of raising children.”
This changed my whole perspective! I had never considered the possibility of eliminating sibling rivalry from the family dynamic; I never even thought it was possible. She continued to explain that if you teach children from the earliest time possible to value each other, they don’t fall into behaviors we see as “normal” in family sitcoms on TV.
You Can Do Things Differently
Grace was of the belief that our popular culture dictates to us what is normal and what is supposed to be OK, but we don’t have to believe it. We can decide to do things differently; we can do better.
I was amazed by the power we have to direct our lives as we see fit, and not just as “normal” or “best” by the standards of popular culture. Monty and I were filled with hope and possibilities, and we began generating ideas for all aspects of parenting! We came up with some basic ideas about our family right then. Other ideas developed as time passed. I’ve written a post about some of our family decisions – one involving Santa Claus.
What is your framework?
So, think about your family and your children. What is important to you in how your family works? Talk with your spouse, and see if you can agree on some basics. Many people just “wing it,” like other aspects in life. Think it over, and decide what’s right for you and your family.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas, so leave a comment!