Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Your Family Constitution - Scott Gale

Summary: What do you get when you cross two working professionals, two active kids and a dog? Chaos! For more than a decade, Scott Gale and his wife, Karen, juggled three bowling bowls- kids, personal needs, and careers. Clear and consistent expectations simply did not factor into their frantic lifestyle. In the wake of a Mother's Day family meltdown, Gale took time to evaluate his family's challenges and induce change, piecing together a powerful tool to restore family harmony. This 'Family Constitution' became the catalyst for clarity, consistency and commitment ('3C's), enabling his family to enjoy mutually understood boundaries and much-needed structure. Your Family Constitution shares Gale's innovative parenting tool and, more importantly, reveals the step-by-step process he went through to become a happier and more effective parent. (Excerpt from an editorial review found on Amazon.com - image from )
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Emily's Review: This book is an anecdotal guide to establishing family rules and expectations. Scott Gale relates how his family reached a point where he felt all order had broken down and then details how they came to a solution that validated each member of the family. As far as I could tell the author doesn't have any formal counseling training and so his story of how and why is what he uses to authenticate his advice. Despite his lack of training, the advice makes sense and seems applicable to most family dynamics.

The basic idea is to establish rules and consequences that seem fair and understandable to all family members. By doing this everyone knows what is expected of them, and what they can expect from others. Doing this reduces conflicts about the fairness and consistency of family rules while treating children with respect.

This book has some very helpful tips for parents on examining your values, guiding principles and potential problems. It also emphasizes the importance of both parents agreeing on these topics, providing a checks and balances dynamic among the family "leadership." Having this discussion with your spouse would be an excellent foundation for establishing family rules of any sort.

My family is very young and the children don't need a lot of rules, yet. However my husband and I could benefit greatly from some establishing some codified expectations between ourselves in order to minimize (or even end!) our frequent power struggles over who gets to do what when.

Her rating: 3.8 stars. I'm a sucker for credentials so I'm cutting some points because it entirely based on the anecdotal experience of one family.

Sum it up: A great workbook for outlining your family's goals, priorities and expectations and for letting each family member feel like they are contributing to the family.
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Heather’s Review: In this book Scott Gale details the makings of a family constitution, which is basically a tool used to keep the family on the same page when it comes to expected behavior and family values. The constitution addresses each family’s individual goals. It lets each member know exactly what is expected of him or her and lines out the consequences, as well as the rewards, for behaviors. It makes complete sense that families run more smoothly when both children and adults have guidelines to follow, and have participated in the making of these said guidelines.

While Gale beautifully lays out the steps to creating such a document, readers should be forewarned that discipline and reward techniques are not discussed within the pages of this book. The method the Gale family used for creating their family system is talked about and that’s a starting place but be prepared to research other places to find effective behavior modifications for your children. The author does offer a web site in relation to the book where additional insight is given, http://www.yourfamilyconstitution.com/ .

Her rating: 3.5 Stars, great idea just didn’t feel complete enough to stand on it’s own.

Sum it up: An important piece for implementing strategies to create harmony within a household.
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Average Rating : 3.65 Stars
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