d. Parenting. Brown poses the simple – but potentially lethal – question: “Are you the adult you want your child to grow up to be?” Ouch. In my own case, the answer to that question is a mixed bag. In a lot of ways, I think I’ve modelled a strong set of values and behaviours in the way I’ve raised my kids. In other ways, I’m a terrible role model. My son, who’s just completed his freshman year of college under lockdown at home, barely came out of his room for six weeks because he was studying so hard. We were proud of him, but also a bit concerned. I kept telling him to take a break and relax. But I often said this to him after working straight through a three-day weekend or having risen at 5 am to cram in an extra hour of work myself. Who was I kidding? As Brown says, what you do as a parent is much more important than what you say. So if you want your kids to change their behaviour, you first have to own up to your own weaknesses.
e. Family Culture. Brown also introduces the concept of “family culture.” It’s the idea that every family, just like every organization, has a recognizable corporate culture. A divorced friend of mine has been dating a man for the past several years. They both have kids and they bring their respective families together for meals a couple of times a week. But she’s struggling with the relationship. At the end of the day, she’s concerned that she and her boyfriend don’t share the same “culture”: the same values, traditions, and mores. And she wonders if, deep down, this means they aren’t meant to be together. Brown’s notion of “family culture” instantly resonated. It helped me to understand the myriad times I’ve felt like the odd (wo)man out when spending time with someone else’s family. I now see that I simply didn’t “get” their culture.
All of these concepts are intuitive, but I found it really helpful to name them. What place does vulnerability play in your life?