(Book) Growing great families – Ian & Mary Grant

Kurt.nzBooks read, Lifestyle, family, community


A well-researched book on growing great families that pulls no punches. It puts the onus squarely back on the parents whilst giving lots of tips. If you read this there’ll be plenty of notes to take and actions to implement once you finish!


1. What is a community?

Focus on the need for connection and community – found in a family. Not an individualistic focus. It’s a very secure thing for a child to be born into a family which already stands for something, has values, principals, goals and leadership.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Truth and love are the bricks and mortar of community.

We were designed for connection and belonging. To be part of a team. Make your family a team, able to rely on each other.

We bond to things we invest in. Have responsibility to the family and invest in it. I.e. make a commitment to have dinner together every night.

We often try and give our children an easy life, however now is our chance to prepare them for life as adults. Things won’t always be easy. They need to learn responsibility and resilience.

Children need a sense of belonging, significance, progress, perspective and attachment.


2. What it means to be a parent in the world we now inhabit.

Be a coach to your children. Challenge, love, inhabit, develop and praise them.

If we don’t parent on purpose we’re likely to parent by accident.

Children need boundaries. Plato – train children in habits of goodness.

C.S. Lewis in ‘Illustration of the Tao’ studied 25 cultures. Ancient Egyptian, Aboriginal, Stoic, Hindu. He found 8 values common to all. Honesty and truthfulness, kindness, consideration, concern for others, compassion, obedience, responsibility, respect and duty.

Lead by example but also explain what you value.

Be crazy about your children. Big welcomes, spontaneous outings, showing you think they’re fantastic.

Three ‘R’s’ – rules, routines, ridiculousness.

The father and mother each have unique gifts to offer kids.

Never ridicule or belittle, humiliate or shame your child. This stays with them forever.

Spoiled children are generally not happy. Self-disciplined children who are loved and know how to cooperate often are.


3. Building the foundation.

A child joins the family, not the other way around. A family has a rhythm and purpose and is not looking to the child to set the agenda. This is security and welcome to a child.

Children reflect love. They need us to love them unconditionally. We are responsible for initiating love.

Empathise first with babies, mirror them then they’ll know you understand them and that’s calming.

Three basics lead to good outcomes for kids: early experience is rich, care is consistent, children are loved.

Parents also need to love each other, show kids love between adults.


4. What makes a family into a community?

“To create a community means…setting up our homes for more…discussion and common planning than individual action and agendas.”

Psychologist Mary Pipler says three things we usually remember from our childhood with happiness: time outdoors, holidays and family mealtimes.

Teach your children how to be cheerleaders for each other.

Rose Kennedy (mother of JFK) made each of her children bring an item of news to the dinner table to share. She treated them as future thinkers and contributors. Get them to read a passage of a book in front of family.

Encourage their imagination and creativity. Problem solving. Someone brings a problem; everyone offers suggestions to solve it.

Expect all kids to have responsibilities and chores in the family.


5. Moulding big personalities into a community.

Value your children’s uniqueness and ability and gifts. They’ll grow up with a ‘can-do’ attitude.

Humans don’t actually function very well in isolation. The way kids connect and interact with their family affects how they work with people in future.

Children love their story (about themselves) as well as stories of parents as kids.

Leader of the week. Each kid has turns to decide everything i.e. what ice creams to have etc.

Allow individual choice and freedom in certain decisions. I.e. bedtime, green or white socks.


6. Teaching life-defining habits: learning self-control and good decision making in the family community.

Feel-think-act, not feel-act.

Tantrums. Stand in the corner and think about what you need to do to get out of it.

Children need parents to make sense of the world, especially emotional situations. Explain it to them.

Give your child ownership of the problem, the tools to fix it and leave their dignity intact. Blame and shame don’t work.

Problems, mistakes and issues are a great way to teach kids how to creatively solve them and avoid them next time.

Three-legged stool of parenting: fun and games, monitoring systems, teaching values.

Tell kids what they’ve done right and talk about them positively.


7. Giving your child a moral foundation.

A childhood to remember, the imagination to think laterally and a well-trained moral compass will equip children to adapt to a changing and global world.

Empathy. Encouraging awareness of others – morality.

Debrief your child at nights. Ask them about their day. Help them interpret what’s going on.

Read them stories depicting desired behaviours.


8. The two pillars of great families – fun and communication.

Children need times when they feel safe to tell you anything including their fears.

Children remember the feeling in your home (their childhood home).


9. Trick y kids

Tricky kids are often future leaders and have fantastic energy. It just needs to be steered in the right direction.

Every child no matter what their personality or bent has a role to play in our world.

Kids need routine and rituals. Tricky kids even more so. Be predictable, consistent and persistent.

Don’t fight everything, just look for small gains.

10. Creating an effective wider community.

Invest in your community. Look after people when they’re in need. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you!

Stay tuned into your child’s friendships.

Take the initiative with hospitality.


11. Moving from dependence to inter-dependence.

Teenagers want their own autonomy and revisit all their beliefs and values. At the same time, they are hugely self-conscious.

Be firm on certain things but don’t sweat the smaller stuff.

Ongoing communication is vital. Give them their voice and allow debate.

Role: control-coach-counsellor-confidant

Believe the best as they push to become individuals, but retain adult wisdom.

Rules without reasons equals rebellion.


12. Changing emphasis for different family shapes.

If parenting without a partner you have to play both roles.

Give kids half their age in pocket money. 1/3 in savings, 1/3 in spending, 1/3 in family tax where combined decisions are made.


13. The building blocks of a meaningful life.

The power of the outdoors shows kids they’re not the ones running it. There’s something so much bigger than us.

The real success of a parent is to raise contributors, not takers.

Kids need to form convictions about family, friends, faith, freedom.

Kids need to know our history. Sacrifices, heroes and courage.