Robin Booth
Robin Booth

Creating successful families

This all came about one day when I was sitting having lunch with my brother and sister. My sister had come down from Johannesburg and my brother from Knysna. It was great to see them again and I was aware that when they left to go back to their respective homes and families I was not sure how long it would be till we were all together again.

I shared that I really valued seeing them and enjoyed the sense of belonging and connectedness between us. They nodded their heads in agreement. I kept reflecting on my grandparents comments about being part of a family. As they got older and had travelled the world, they kept coming back to what they valued most, and this was their “family” of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I also reflected on the many comments of other people whose last living words were about how they regretted not spending more time with family and friends. They lamented how they had lived their lives with what they now perceived as “unimportant priorities”.

I know myself well enough to see that I will be saying the same thing. If I died today, my last words would be that I regret not having spent more time with the people I love and care about most. I would regret that work and “other things” somehow took up all my time. I would regret that the things that I valued did not reflect in the time and activities of my life.

It was from this context that I shared with my siblings that I would like to consciously create some way for us to nurture and celebrate our relationships. And it was through this process with them that it become really clear that the success of most family relationships in the world are mainly left up to chance and luck. Successful businesses have huge human resource departments that work on developing the relationships within the business. Yet in our most valued and cherished organisation (that of our family) we kind of meander along unguided and often unskilled in effective communication and relationship-building.

So we three siblings sat down and shared what we valued from being part of the Booth Sibling Family and we shared what we would still like to see happen. Through this process we came up with what can be termed our vision of the Booth Sibling Relationships (in my next blog I will explain more about the actual steps of how to create a family vision).

This is what we came up with:

Through friendship, support and sharing adventures and experiences we strengthen our connectedness.

Through conversation, reflection and sharing we inspire each other to grow and learn.

Through understanding, acceptance, commitment and love we create stability and belonging.

And in one sentence, this sums it up:

Dynamic Loving Relationships through Connectedness, Growth and Belonging

Now that we had a sense of what we valued and how this value was expressed, we set about seeing how we could bring this more tangibly into our lives.

Out of this we created the Annual Booth Sibling Holiday and the Annual Extended Booth Family Holiday (for the inclusion of our own partners and children). We set about creating a blog to share and update photos of our children. We thought about other ways to continue deepening our relationships, as siblings and with our nieces and nephews and family members-in-law. We thought about how we could give our children (ranging in age from 19 years to 3 months old) that same sense of connectedness and belonging that we three siblings valued and cherished.

The reason I am inspired to write about this now is that I have just come back from our week-long extended family holiday and wish to share more about this because maybe there are other families out there who wish to consciously nurture and celebrate their relationships. Steven Covey also talks about a similar process in his book on The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Families. So here are the things I will share in my following four blogs.

1) Creating the family vision

2) After the vision, then what?

3) The sibling holiday

4) The extended family holiday (and things we did to make it work for us).

If you as the reader have any deeper questions about the process we undertook, then post them and I will include the responses in the blogs.

  • john Bond

    This is interesting!!!
    Psychologists are finally trying to define the good life and they have found that those with strong friendships and those in healthy marriages are MUCH happier than those that have little social interaction.

    Why not log onto this site of the famous positive psychologist Martin Seligman and take a couple of his tests to see what your strengths are and where you personally derive your happiness (or lack of it) from

    It’ll make you think…

  • ex-Zimbabwe

    What a great adventure this has been. Well done to the Booths, and may you go from strength to strength.

    Sometimes, all we seem to do in our families is collect baggage and then drag it around for the rest of our days.

    Looking forward to more blogs like this!

  • Benzol

    I have just come back from a family “event” in Holland where my 3 brothers, 3 sisters, 3 children and 6 grandchildren live. One of my brothers was instrumental in organizing a family party at the occasion of our mother’s birthday. She should have been 100 years old if she had made it. She died at the age of 97.
    A long afternoon was spend with family members I had not seen for years. My brother’s son from Shanghai made it to the event with wife and two little ones. My oldest brother’s extended family made it to the party.
    My youngest son did not make it because his father in law decided to have a heart attack the day before. They wanted to be with him. These things happen as “the family” matures in more than one way.
    My (our) mother did instill this bonding. She, “the queen”, had demanded all her life that certain (annual) celebrations were maintained and attended too. At the times, we did not always agreed but in hindsight she gave us the “drive” to stay together as siblings and attachments. We indeed made the decision to repeat such a gathering of the clan.

  • Dave Harris

    Robin, your article curiously brought to mind an old Chinese proverb:
    When there is peace in the heart, there is harmony at home.
    When there is harmony at home, there is order in the nation.
    When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.

    So it seems to me like you’re contributing to creating world peace, Robin! Its strange how easily most of us seem to neglect the important things. Would like to hear more about your successes and failures in your upcoming blogs.