We weren’t alone. Many families struggle for a myriad of reasons. But when one parent has to raise six children alone, then structure is even more important to have but even more difficult to achieve. Even traditional two-parent families often have issues with structure. But what do I mean by structure?
Since I’m an Air Force veteran, I’ll use the USAF as a model that families could try to emulate. For instance:
What if a family were like a crew in a large aircraft?
There would be a pilot, a co-pilot, a navigator, and depending on the type of aircraft, other positions on board to complete the mission.
A mission! What if a family had a mission? Helping each other achieve success and happiness is an example of a mission. Make your own family mission. What is it you want your family to achieve? When you have a crew (family), it would be optimal to have two pilots (parents) . The crew (family) could vary in size and gender.
This crew would have a commander with a second-in-command. They, and the rest of the crew, would have clear responsibilities.
Clear responsibilities! What if a family had clear responsibilities? Granted, the Commander in a family may shift from Mom to Dad depending on the mission. In aircraft, when control of the plane is changed from one pilot to the other, it is done without doubt. First pilot, “You have the aircraft.” Second pilot responds, “I have the aircraft”. The change in responsibility is never in question.
The rest of the crew also have designated responsibilities, all required to meet the mission.
The crew on this aircraft would be highly trained in their duties and on-board communication.
What if family members were highly trained in integrity, manners, cooperation, communication, dish-washing, etc.?
A USAF crew has a structure outside of its assigned aircraft. There are similar crews which belong to bigger organizations (Squadrons, Wings) that assist, mentor and train these crews. They learn from each other and have standards to meet.
What if a family had a structure outside their home to help? It could be grandparents, aunts/uncles, brothers/sisters, their church, or other organizations. Standards would be used only as measures to live by, not to make clones of us all.
The crew and the members of a crew are held responsible for their actions and rewarded for their excellence.
What if family members were held responsible for their actions? What if the standards we spoke of before were not met? Shouldn’t corrective action be expected and served? What if family members excelled or went beyond the call of duty? Wouldn’t being rewarded be a positive reinforcement?
In the Air Force, when a crew member does not pull his weight, the crew commander must take action towards that crew member. When the entire crew does not pull its weight, the crew commander is responsible for all.
What if parents were consistent in praise and punishment? If what one family member causes disruption in the whole family. Then the parents must take responsibility for allowing one member to disrupt all. Sometimes this is unfair. But many military commanders have lost their positions for actions of those under them. As a parent, you won’t lose your position, but you may you may your credibility.
In summary, having spent 29 years in the USAF and Air National Guard, I left with a real appreciation for the military. It is not perfect by any means, but it is structured and you are never at a loss for where to go for help. Everyone in the military has a common goal to work together to meet their goals. As a military member, you know where you stand and what is expected of you. If families had the structure and qualities above, with the added advantage of the most basic love for each other, then our problem children and societal issues would be minimized and in some instances, prevented altogether.