If you’re bummed that your family has a long way to go, you’re not alone

Maybe your family starting point was loving and solid. Maybe you arrived in the middle of a train wreck.

Whatever starting point you had, I promise you’ll be encouraged during the 31 days of A Family Like Yours. But encouragement doesn’t mean you deny the brutal reality that the present and past can be.

Our family starting point

I wonder if the hole in the garage wall of the old home on Westline Drive in Columbus, Indiana is still there? My dad slammed his fist into that wall when I was in high school, and when he died over thirty years later it wasn’t fixed.

In the evenings in that house our family often walked around daintily, knowing random noises or loud talking could be taken wrong and set dad off. Mom tried to help us kids embrace dainty, but dainty wasn’t our thing.

It’s not that Dad was always angry – you just never knew what might get him going. Alcohol does that to you (I know personally).

Mom ‘helped’ by making sure nobody ever rocked the boat by talking about drinking or the mood in our home. If everybody could only be ‘good’ enough, everything would be all right. Shhhhh.

Scenes like that repeated themselves when I married Brenda, only now I was the dysfunctional one. Not much punching walls but lots of yelling and frustration and arguing. My wife Brenda would say she was dysfunctional, too. Her family, like mine and yours, has it’s own story.

Both Brenda and I grew up believing life was something you responded to. Your job was to deal with whatever came at you. You didn’t actually have any influence over how things turned out. No wonder we were frustrated. Oh well. 

We were wrong.

You are the most influential person in your family

You can think things, do things, say things, and respond to things in ways that can shape and change your family. You cannot cure dysfunction, but you can get to where it doesn’t dominate your family life.

Your perspective on life shapes your family. Your expectations of your family and of your relationships shape your family.

The family life Brenda and I enjoy now is far FAR different from the life either one of us experienced growing up. And it’s far different from the family life she and I had in the early years of our marriage.

Somehow, slowly but certainly, we were transformed into a family like ours.

On the way to a family like yours

A perfect family would be boring. The imperfections are part of the flavoring. Like soup, you want the ingredients in your family add up to something good, flavorful, and healthy.

There’s no secret recipe. It’s just common sense. Most of it you already know, maybe all of it.

You know that some attitudes, some words, some emotions, some actions – work. They make good soup.

And some don’t. For many years I only knew the ones that didn’t work.

Gradually I discovered that aligning myself with certain things that work increased the chances of good things happening. We learn this as we get older, right? When it doesn’t work, you feel like you lose. When it does, it feels like winning.

Tomorrow we start looking at the kinds of things that win. The more you honor those things and cooperate with them, the more your family is transformed into what God has in mind for a family like yours.

What’s your family starting point?

About the Author


Gary Morland helps you feel better about your most challenging family relationships, and helps you actually improve those relationships - all by adopting simple attitudes, perspectives, expectations, and actions (the same ones that changed him and his family).


  1. Crystal Rose

    I guess I would say we’re at the middle point. Some things work and some don’t. I have no idea how to change the things that don’t though. I mean, it’s hard enough trying to change myself, trying to change things outside of me seems impossible.

    • Thanks Crystal. I can’t change myself or things outside myself either. Been trying for years and years. Yet . . . things have changed. Baby steps add up. I hope you find a few encouraging baby steps in the coming days.

  2. I found you through Nester, and I am so glad. Really looking forward to reading your series this month!

  3. Margaret

    Just discovered you yesterday through reading Emily’s blog and her Proverbs 31 devotional that was posted almost a year ago (OK, so I am slow! ha ha). I am very touched by both of you and what you have to say. I am good at talking but not really saying what is in my heart. Thank you for sharing of yourself Ina personal and fun way. Praying I can find those things that win and help me to connect the dots! I have had the dots thing on my mind ever since I read it yesterday. Guess a lot of things feel disconnected in my life. Would be nice to connect something by my 53rd birthday that coming up! Thank you again for all that you share with so many people.

    • Seems to me you ARE pretty good at sharing what’s in your heart, Margaret. I appreciate your encouragement :)

  4. m

    Our family is blended. A babe from my previous marriage, along with a babe of our own , alcoholism & broken families on both sides:( And, the only reason we are where we are today is, because of our conmon faith! Our Lord & Savior; Jesus Christ! He has brought us thus far (11yrs on the 26th of Oct. PTL!!!) & all the glory belongs to HIM! When I think of just how far WE’VE come, it brings tears to my eyes & praise to my lips!!! Apart from HIM, I can do nothing!!! Thank you, G…you are truly a great blessing in my life…connecting those dots!
    Blessings & <3


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