Family, Framily and Those we Hold Dear:
Those we hold closest to us and consider a part of our support structure, our family. As you read, insert the names of those you hold dear when you read the word family.

The current moment has increased the significance of engaging with our families and communities.  We are communicating virtually and have been challenged to connect in important ways without our in- person gatherings and family traditions.  The initial discomfort of this change has created a new opportunity.  It has presented an opportunity to further develop the ways we communicate with those we hold dear.  It has set us up to connect with Meaningful Conversations.

In her extensive work with multi-generational families, Dr. Carolyn Friend believes that now is the time to engage in Meaningful Conversations.  These are conversations that are intentional.  Conversations that engage multiple generations.  Conversations that allow us to impart wisdom, deepen connection and foster shared appreciation.  Conversations with family, framily and those we hold dear.

These conversations are often intimidating for family members to initiate because of the obstacles perceived on how and when to begin.  Many families are nervous about what could be unearthed, like family secrets or long-suppressed feelings.  Others are hesitant to upset the family power dynamics.  In addition, there is fear of rejection by those who would not value the need to have conversations like these.  These obstacles are perceived as roadblocks and dead ends which are challenging for families to overcome.

There is a tendency to feel that you must “seize the moment”, rush in, and say everything in the first conversation.  Or it is a missed opportunity.  As a part of the Creating Meaningful Conversations Program, Dr. Carolyn Friend has designed a process to support families to overcome these obstacles.  There is so much for families to gain in working through these obstacles.

Dr. Friend worked with one family who transformed their misunderstandings around family heirlooms.


The Meaning of Family Heirlooms

Over the years, the patriarch and matriarch had acquired collections of antiques.  These collections were deeply important to them and they saw them as a part of their legacy.  Each piece represented an important shared moment for them as a couple, and as a family.  The pink bowl from India was from their first international trip together that inspired decades of adventurous travel.  The figurine from their honeymoon represented a special shared moment and the ceramic set from a trip with their grandchildren was a reminder of the importance of learning about different cultures.  They wanted the collections to remain in the family, but without the context for the importance of these items, none of the adult children or grandchildren appreciated their sentimental value.  They didn’t see that these items represented so many of the values their parents wanted to pass down to them and the family for decades to come.  In the process of downsizing from the family home, there were many family arguments between the parents and their children filled with hurtful comments about keeping these items.

The absence of a Meaningful Conversation about the importance of these items prior to this point left the parents’ vision for the collections unspoken. At this point, the family chose to engage in a facilitated conversation with Dr. Friend and authentically addressed the meanings, feelings and expectations. The parents were able to share that the collection represented their memories, their hopes and wishes.

For families who overcome these obstacles, a deeper family connection lies on the other side.  Dr. Friend believes that the first Meaningful Conversation begins the journey of a family creating a shared foundation for how they communicate about their legacy.  Through these meaningful conversations they come together to build a bridge to the future.

Dr. Carolyn Friend has developed a unique approach to facilitating Meaningful Conversations with families to support them.  Try the 5 Minute Meaningful Conversation Warm Up!  On your next family Zoom or FaceTime call ask the group to share a core value that they are using to get through this challenging time.