The Dude Family Tackles “Secrets of Happy Families”

A little known Dude fact: I once attended law school.

Yep, a full year of law school – they say the first is the hardest.

Then I left.

Flunked? Au contraire mon fraire.

Killed it. Dean’s list. Law Review.

But the life of a big city attorney paying off six digit school loans was not very appealing.

Definitely the right decision.

Although I walked, I did retain some benefits. I still dig the law. I have a much better understanding of legal matters. And I can consume a book while highlighting, underlining, and taking notes in the margins.

A skill and a curse. But my legal reading skills came in handy as I soaked up Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families.

I love the idea of “hacking” the family. Finding tips, tricks and secrets to create a happy, fun, organized, always-learning family.

Efficiency? Simplicity? Count me in. 

Here’s a great TED talk from Bruce about the Agile Family. Pretty awesome.


I just finished Secrets, and I’m ready send the Dude Family through a test run making the most of the “low hanging fruit.”

Awesome, right?

Mr. Feiler, you are officially on notice. The Dudes are putting your Secrets to the test.

There are 13 chapters. All with good thoughts.

Love the closing lesson: What’s the secret to being a happy family? Try.

But 13 chapters is a lot. And each family is unique. Every secret will not work for every family.

Be creative. Be flexible. And see what works.

We’re choosing a few of our favs and making a run at it.

I definitely recommend the book. However, the proof is in the living. I’ll let ya know how the living goes.

Dude Family Secrets

  1. Family Meeting (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Wednesday evening 
    2. Under 20 minutes 
    3. Q’s  
      1. What worked well in our family this week? 
      2. What went wrong in our family this week? 
      3. What will we work on this coming week? 
  2. Self-directed checklists (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Morning routine, chores, etc.
    2. Put checklists on whiteboard on the fridge for kids to read and check off 
      1. Add weekly “goals” to whiteboard 
      2. Choosing own punishments and rewards
  3. Family meals (Easy, already doing…continue to have meals together)
  4. Family rituals important (Mid-term, start working on rituals with Mrs. Dude)
    1. Rituals have to be created. We can’t sit back and hope they’ll just happen. We have to go out and make them happen.
    2. Fun, hokey, memorable.
    3. Seasons, holidays, vacation/bonding?
  5. Branding our Family (Mid-term, start working on branding with Mrs. Dude) 
    1. Belief Board – p. 52 
    2. Family mission statement – p. 56 
    3. Puts onto one piece of paper all the words that matter to us – ex. p. 60 
    4. Check Bruce’s “toolkit”
    5. Keep it short?
    6. Make drafting it a special occasion.
    7. Post in a prominent place
    8. 80 example values – p. 65
    9. Value Q’s – p. 67
      1. What words best describe our family?
      2. What is most important to our family?
      3. What are our strengths as a family?
      4. What sayings best capture our family?
  6. The Buck Starts Here
    2. $ penalties?
    3. Allowance = $1 per week, per year of age?
    4. Chores separate from allowance?
    5. Loans from parents?
      1. Write essays for major purchases?
    6. About understanding constraints
      1. Constraints force creativity
    7. Pay for passions
      1. Accept passions 
      2. Great people are great because they find their passion. 
      3. The goal is not equality; the goal is fairness. 
      4. Focus on what they really need, not how much you’re spending. 
    8. Put them to work 
    9. Part-time jobs are great for kids

One thought on “The Dude Family Tackles “Secrets of Happy Families”

  1. Pingback: Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Checklist. Especially Super Awesome Kid Checklists. | Dude Knows Best

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