some tools and shortcuts that make it quicker and easier for you to assess the
extent to which your family or any family is at risk. They help you sample
behavior and attitudes and rapidly evaluate how family members get along with
each other. You can quickly focus on the marital and parent/child relationships
and on the behavior and attitudes of each person in the family.
The key to using these tools is understanding the idea of
sampling. This simply means looking at a few examples of behavior and attitudes
and coming to conclusions based on those few examples. If you want to know if
an individual’s behavior and attitudes are contributing to his family’s being
at risk, you could observe everything he does for a year and draw your
conclusions from those observations. This is neither practical nor necessary.
Rather, you need only look at a few examples of his behavior over a short
period of time. If you are systematic as you get this sample of his behavior,
your conclusions will be about as good as they would be if you spent a year.
Two contains a sample of behavior and attitudes from PART ONE. Here,
positive or proactive behavior is emphasized. Instead of looking at behavior
that puts your family at risk, Figure Two focuses on the counterpart of
that behavior. It includes behavior and attitudes that enable your family to
succeed, to avoid being at risk. You may find it instructive to revisit PART
ONE to locate the signs and see where they fit into the range of risk areas
If the answer to each of the Individual Risk
questions in Figure Two is yes
for a member of the family, it is safe for you to conclude that his or her
behavior and attitudes are not contributing to the family’s being at risk. If
the answers to some of the questions are no, the individual’s behavior
and attitudes are problematic for the family. Often, people think their
behavior is their business and that they should not be held accountable by
other family members. They say, “You have no right to tell me what to do
or how to live. It is my life and I am in charge of it.” It is easy to
imagine Leroy saying something like that to TJ or to TJ’s mother.
Here is the problem. The individual’s behavior and attitudes
are jeopardizing the family. An appropriate response might be:
behavior and attitudes are your business but also are my business because they
put our family at risk. I care about our family and am concerned about anything
that threatens it. Your behavior and attitudes are that kind of concern for me.
I worry about you and also am afraid for our family.