Archive for the ‘Families that Thrive’ Category

How Strong is Your Family?

January 26, 2015 Comments Off on How Strong is Your Family?
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How Strong is Your Family?

“In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.” This statement by church leader Tom Perry resonates deeply for me. My thought is that you can deal with a lot if your family and marriage is strong, but when that foundation feels shaky, all of life becomes tumultuous.

I have a vision to strengthen marriages and families! I love this picture expressed by David R. Mace : “Nothing in the world can make human life happier than to greatly increase the number of strong families.” With that in mind, I offer this tool to assess the strength of your family life so you can experience increased joy, peace, and strength.

Caveat: We all have areas that need growth. Don’t allow any defeat to knock you down as you work through this. The purpose is to identify next steps to build the family you desire!

Respond to each of the following statements with a 1-5 rating, 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”.

____ We have a written family vision that includes our mission, dreams/goals, and specific action steps to achieve those dreams/goals.

____ We are totally committed to our marriage/family. We’ve closed the “back door.” We’re in it for keeps.

____ We don’t have any fear of discipline for our kids. We are comfortable with our discipline strategies and consistently work together as a team.

____ The progress that we are making as a family is about what it should be for the effort we are putting in.

____ We have consistent, positive connections with each of our children.

____ We have a strong relational support network for helping build the family we desire.

____ Our children are an active part in creating our family vision.

____ We are confident that our family will accomplish our mission. We have no significant doubts or reservations.

____ Our family members can concisely articulate what we want for our family.

____ As parents, we know how to let our children fail in appropriate ways and learn from these experiences.

____ The purpose we have as parents is clear and we make our daily decisions according to this picture.

____ The stress of running our family has not seriously dampened the joy of our family life.

____ We have plentiful resources to help us accomplish our goals/mission as a family.

____ As parents, we regularly prioritize our marriage in order to keep the foundational relationship of our home strong.

____ As parents, we regularly prioritize “refueling” ourselves as individuals so that we can be joy-filled contributors to our family.

____ As parents, we model the behaviors and values that we desire for our kids to live out.

____ Our home is well-organized. We have systems and structures in place for our family operations.

____ Our finances are in order. We have an emergency fund and have developed a monthly spending plan that we agree on as a couple.

____ Our children participate fully in the work of our family. They understand that we are a “team” and fin order to be a successful family, each team member is a valuable contributor.

____ TOTAL

75-95 Rock-n-Roll! You have strong clarity on the family life you want and have aligned your daily choices with those desires!

55-74 You are building a solid foundation for your family. Celebrate your strengths and identify your next action step(s).

37-54 You may have a few areas that are stronger than others. Of the areas that scored low, which are most important to you? What support do you need to move forward?

1-36 If a strong family life is important to you, some significant adjustments need to be made.

There are few things that are more worthwhile in which to invest energy in this New Year as your home! A few action steps to consider:

• Read a great book, either individually or as a couple. Patrick Lencioni’s The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family is the resource on my nightstand right now.
• Plan to attend Marriage Inc., Date Night event.
• Many qualified coaches and counselors are available through the Marriage Inc. office. Call 815-939-5358 for a recommendation.


Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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3 Empowering Habits for a New School Year

August 28, 2014 Comments Off on 3 Empowering Habits for a New School Year
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And, they’re off! The school year has begun.

A fresh season offers great opportunity to cultivate new habits. Check out three habits that hold immense possibility for your child in this new school year:

Be a friend to have a friend

What kid doesn’t want to have more friends? Crazy thing, kids (much like adults), hope that friends will magically appear and that those connections will invite them to be a part of all that’s happening. When it comes to friendship, the world is desperately in need of more initiators. The start of a new school year offers a time to encourage your child to give away lots of smiles, keep a look out for the new kid in class or the student who is sitting alone at lunch. Offering friendship is the best way to fill life with strong relationships. Encourage your child to initiate connections rather than waiting for them to come along. What would happen in this world if we all taught our kids to give to others what they want to have for themselves?

Do 1st things first

“We do the things we have to do before we get to do the things we want to do” has become a mantra around our house. Think about it… You go to work, earn a paycheck, pay your mortgage or rent, and then get to enjoy your home. Nobody gives you a beautiful home, lets you lay around as long as you want, watch 5-6 hours of TV, and then – if you feel like it – go to work. Right? The world operates by doing first things first. And, this is a crucial lesson for any young person.

What are the things your child has to do? Obviously, this varies based on the age of your kids, but homework and chores top the list for those that are elementary aged and over. When your child asks about something he wants to do, like heading over a friend’s, or jumping on the video game, check in with him, “Have you done 1st things 1st?”

Practice gratefulness

The benefits of having a grateful spirit have gotten much attention recently. Many parents I work with express concern that the more their kids receive, the more they seem to want. Developing a grateful heart tops the list of qualities that will greatly serve your child, and it certainly doesn’t need to wait until adulthood to make it into daily habits.

Research conducted with students who wrote down five things for which they felt grateful for, once a week, for 10 weeks in a row, experienced exciting results! Less stress, more joy, increased optimism and greater life satisfaction topped the list of outcomes. Here are some ways to practice gratitude with your kids:

  • Use dinner time to have each person express one positive thing from the day. This can even happen in the car on the way to the next practice!
  • At bedtime, spend time with your child sharing the top three things from the day for which you are grateful.
  • Have a family “gratitude board.” Hang a whiteboard in the hallway or laundry room and have family members write on the board things for which they are grateful daily.
  • Write weekly/monthly letters of appreciation. A teacher, a family member, a coach, a friendly clerk or waitress are all people who will be encouraged by a letter of appreciation from your child.

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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Marriage Coaching: Four Reasons

August 5, 2014 Comments Off on Marriage Coaching: Four Reasons
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Yesterday, Michelle Klavohn posed a question – why invest in marriage coaching? Today, she’s back with four powerful ways that partnering with a marriage coach can help your marriage.

1. Clarity and unity on what you value.

In the world today, couples often get so busy with living, that life becomes reactionary. We bounce around like ping pong balls. Rather than intentionally moving together with clarity on things that truly matter, we respond to the last paddle that hits us. Spouses with clear values they identify together, work through challenging questions with greater ease. For example, if a potential job change comes up, partners have a filter through which to view the question. A couple that knows living geographically close to extended family is at the top of their priorities doesn’t spend precious time and emotional energy arguing through a job offer that moves them across the country. That decision has already been made because the couple is on the same page before the question even arises.

2. Alignment of day-to-day decisions with those values.

Alignment of your daily life with the values you choose for your home can also be an extremely freeing experience, particularly in the sticky areas of time and money. Let’s face it, time and money are precious commodities that cause marriage partners to make many tough choices. When a couple clearly determines their priorities, great freedom comes from the realization you don’t have to do everything. And, you don’t have to do what others think you should. Instead, spouses focus on giving important resources to what matters most to them. A deep sense of peace and joy floods into the relationship that brings life and energy. I’ve seen couples literally begin to breathe easier. Shoulders lift. Smiles emerge. I love that!

3. Proactive communication that keeps a relationship alive and growing.

At the university where I teach, I often tell students, its not a matter of if you will handle conflict in your relationship, it is a matter of how you handle conflict that comes. Conflict is going to come. Two people that are uniquely created with different perspectives and background cannot possibly live a life together without conflict. But, they can learn to communicate in proactive ways that keep them away from damaging patterns that make living together increasingly difficult over years. Nobody goes to the marriage altar aiming for divorce, right? So, how do so many couples get there? Well certainly many different paths can lead this direction, but often there’s a common journey: conflict comes, it doesn’t get handled well, feelings are hurt, distance grows, hope shrinks, patterns emerge, efforts get exhausted, spirits give up, and people walk away… sometimes in a short period of time… other times after years and years of trying. You may be asking yourself, “is this all there is?” The answer is no. A good coach provides a healthy place to stay proactive with your communication and can assist in developing strong conflict resolution skills.

4. Navigation of the space between the needs of both partners.

We may not like to admit it, but both partners in a relationship have needs. The more effectively these are identified, communicated, and met with win/win approaches, the stronger the relationship grows. A good coach creates space for each partner to pinpoint what needs are present. When things between them are healthy, each partner has a greater capacity to help meet the other’s needs. If a couple waits until crisis to work through needs, the emotional tanks of the relationship are drained in ways that make giving to one’s partner a much more difficult task. How much better to stay in a place where love and respect for each other is present and creates a true longing to care for your partner’s desires! In addition, a good coach provides fresh perspectives and creative energy that provide new ways to meet the needs of both partners.

It Can Happen

So, I did the math. The average reader of this article has roughly 15,302 days of life remaining. Every of us has the choice of how to live each one. Will you choose to just get by or will you determine to live something more?

I pray you will live full out. I dream you will live with the end in mind and choose to get clear on what you really want for your home. I envision each person that reads this article gaining the inspiration to make their marriage and relationships top priority and to invest some resources in building an amazing life together. Not survival mode. Not roommates that coexist. Rather, as passionate lovers, best friends, mutual partners, difference makers. It’s possible to live so beautifully and dynamically that your relationship gives strength and joy to everyone around you. But it doesn’t happen by chance.

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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Why Invest in a Marriage Coach?

August 4, 2014 Comments Off on Why Invest in a Marriage Coach?
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If someone told you today exactly the number of days you had left to live, would it make a difference? Would that number bring clarity in what really matters to you each day? Would it increase your determination to live life well and to love deeply? I’m guessing it would.

I had a conversation this week with a friend who recently lost a close family member. The passing of her loved one caused real reflection and a realization that she wanted to do some things differently in life. This is a person that most anyone looking on would say was living a great life…good family, solid marriage, meaningful places to work and plenty of friends and fun. And that is true. But, she has a sense that God intends more for the life and relationships in which she invests. No mediocrity or getting by for her. She wants to live a life she loves and come to the end of life with no regrets! She wants to live relationships well. I love it!

Some questions:

• What lulls us into living a lesser life?
• Is your marriage and family at its best?
• How would it change your life (and the lives of those around you) if it were at its best?
• If you could wave a magic wand, what would it be like?

Can I borrow one of the most beautiful statements ever spoken? I have a dream.

My dream goes something like this… I picture a day when people in lifelong commitments to each other take hold of each others’ hands and say things like, “Let’s live our best marriage together. Let’s humble ourselves and realize it is a very good thing to have support to build that dream. Let’s be proactive, seek outside perspectives, and live full out for this team called ‘you and me’.”

I dream that it’s the norm for every couple to have a marriage coach, not because if people do this, I’ll make a better living. The reason is that I believe to my core that investing in a great marriage and family is the most valuable place anyone could spend hard-earned money. Jon and I have partnered with a coach numerous times throughout our marriage. We do that not because we want to avoid divorce, but because when we come to the end of our lives, we want to do it hand-in-hand, deeply in love, living to the last breath as best friends and lovers. There is no doubt in my mind: every dime we’ve spent pays off exponentially. That kind of relationship we want to build doesn’t happen without intentionality.

Check back tomorrow for four strong reasons why you should consider partnering with a marriage coach!

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development. With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day. She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

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Need some joy? What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

June 19, 2014 Comments Off on Need some joy? What’s on your Summer Bucket List?
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We all look forward to summer as a time for rejuvenation – who doesn’t need a good dose of fun?! The chance of that happening increases greatly when you get intentional with your partner/family about what you’d love to do this season! Why not create a Summer 2014 Bucket List that provides specific ways to “up” your fun factor?

Here’s how to take action on your Bucket List:

  1. Ask each family member to create their own bucket list.  Encourage specific and simple ideas.  Life-giving fun does not require extravagance.
  2. Come together with each person’s bucket list and share your ideas.
  3. After combining your thoughts, have each person list their top 3-5 interests. This develops a priority list of what provides greatest joy for the family as a whole and shows you quickly where to start.
  4. Put your #1 idea on the calendar!
  5. Enjoy a summer filled with simple, fun ways to share family time and watch the joy factor in your family grow!

And I’m happy to share my family’s Summer 2014 Bucket List!

  • Go blueberry picking. Make blueberry crisp and share it with friends.
  • Bike ride on the Fox River Trail. Ride the paddle boats.
  • Father’s Day Canoe Trip (DONE!)
  • Teach my daughter to drive.
  • All four of us with hands in the air going over the 1st hill of the Raging Bull at Great America.
  • Serve together at the Chicago-area Ronald McDonald House.
  • Gather neighborhood kids and have a sparkler-fest in celebration of July 4th.
  • Cuddle each night with my husband and share at least 3 things from our day that we’re grateful for.
  • Dad/son boy’s road trip. (DONE!)
  • Say “hi” to 5 people we don’t know in Chicago.
  • Make homemade ice cream sundae bar.
  • Take Murphy to a dog park.
  • Sit and drink coffee on grandma and grandpa’s porch.
  • Skype with our niece in Honduras.
  • Family photo shoot.
  • Garage sale scavenger hunt.
  • Bike ride in the rain.
  • Hike at Starved Rock and take pictures of all 4 of us in a tree.
  • Do a progressive dinner with free food coupons.
  • Make a chin face video to “Fixer Upper” from “Frozen”.
  • Do a midnight swim and play Marco Polo.
  • Do anonymous late-night cookie drops to friends and neighbors.
  • Take a bus-load of friends to Cow Appreciation Night at Chick-Fil-A all dressed as cows and eat free food.
  • Watch Brazil play in the World Cup. (DONE!)
  • Take the train to Chicago and swim at the beach.

So what’s on your bucket list? Here’s to a fun-filled, simple, memory-making, life-giving summer for you and your family!

Family Coach Michelle Klavohn holds over 20 years in the field of Human Development.  With a Master’s degree in Communication and 10 years as a Communication Educator, she equips families to close the gap between the family they dream of and the family they experience each day.  She passionately pursues her vision to partner with families who want to thrive!

This post was originally featured in Michelle Klavohn’s Familes that Thrive! newsletter.
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