The Future of the Family. Thinking Tank 10.10.2009

The most supported idea (over 8o%) was that the perfect family would be

  • a family full of support, affection and belief in you

This was despite the fact that half the group agreed that

  • family can be seen as a restriction

Overall, we had two main points of view represented in the debate, those supporting a traditional, strong, nuclear family and those who took a more fluid view.

Threats to families in today’s world

Families are seen as facing some challenges today – from societal changes and other distractions

Family life has changed from a nostalgia of sledging and Sunday tea to a confusing, challenging chaos

  • Anti-social behaviour

Changing state of families

But the changes are not all problematic. The new openness of the idea of family is also seen by many as an opportunity

  • Cultural diversity is a challenge not a threat
  • Monocultures are easier to manage but don’t offer the same opportunities.
  • More varied structures have potential to accommodate a greater number of individual needs

Next steps

Meanwhile, most of us are part of a family, so what should we do for the best? These ideas were supported by the group:

For ourselves:

  • So we’ll go through a messy patch – and then… brave new world
  • Parenting today is more about leadership than dictatorship

Support each other

  • Accepting that being a family doesn’t mean necessarily living under one roof
  • A general broadening of the sense of ‘family’

For the authorities

  • Challenge organisations who still produce forms that are impossible to fill in if you’re not a “proper” family
  • Minister: promote positive family models, based on values and behaviour, not structure
  • More inclusiveness then exclusiveness

Connections

If you have connections with any such group or individuals and could help to set something up then please contact the Thinking Tank to discuss how we could make this happen.

If you have personal concerns on these issues then there are various organizations working positively in this area who may be able to help you.

If you represent such an organization and would like a link from this page, please let us know.

If you would like to see a full list of statements please email me

Christmas Thinking Tank Results 07.12.2008

Kids want happy families not presents, yet adults feel the pressure to spend!???

In December for the first time we ran two Thinking Tanks. One for under 16s and then one for adults. Children talked a lot about families, the sparkle of decorations and the feeling of excitement. Adults talked about the over-commercialisation of Christmas but recognised it only works because we buy into it. We concluded with some great ideas to buck the trend.

It’s not the way we want it

The general conclusion was this Christmas had lost some of it’s spark for adults. For some that was the declining religious significance while the majority rued the seemingly irresistible commercialisation of the event  – almost 60% of adults felt Christmas had less value today than when they were young.

  • Pity it as been turned for many people into a purchasing circus over the last 15 years
  • [I feel a] bit of guilt, as we are not celebrating it as it should be celebrated

What we like

The positive aspects of Christmas for the adult group were mostly around feasting—good food and wine, shared with family and friends. There was nostalgia for a simpler era when presents were homemade and there wasn’t the same pressure to spend.

  • human beings need rituals, especially those to do with change

In the young people’s group, the emphasis was also on family, though food was hardly mentioned! 60% of them felt that Christmas was most enjoyable for families (surprisingly, 20% thought turkeys!)

When the young people got to make a wish for Christmas, they went for peace, snow, health and love. Much lower scores for i-pods and quad bikes.

Offered a wish for the world, less environmental destruction, poverty and racism were unanimously supported.

  • racism to stop
  • don’t waste the world
  • people to recycle

When we forced the issue by challenging participants to limit to a £50 budget most adults chose to spend it on food. And many thought they might even enjoy it more

  • More. Because the reason to come together is not the gifts, the food, …. it is only the friendship
  • More value. Will have to be creative and invest personal time to find the right present and please the recipient

Hope for the future

In good Dickens tradition, at the end of our discussion we considered future Christmases and whether we might find ways to increase their value. 50% felt this would be possible.

Some of the more popular suggestions were:

  • I’m a great fan of the “random acts of kindness” school – if we ALL do it, it encourages others!!
  • ensure that we see giving of their time and presence as valuable as presents
  • maybe if we include a personal promise (eg to read a bedtime story, get home from work in time) in each Christmas card we send, word will get around

When the young people came up with their suggestions for improving Christmas they recognised adults need some help with enjoying themselves:

  • but adults are part of the family (!)
  • help each other more on Christmas day – my mum always says it’s exhausting
  • I think a lot of the magic that is “created” at xmas is FOR children – and maybe adults should enjoy that more, seeing children happy and excited
  • I think if it could be made a bit simpler and be more about being with people and showing the nice side of life, rather than consumerism all the time, it would be loads better.

The final word comes from the children’s debate on how to improve Christmas for everyone:

    be nice and share

Join the debate

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