April 15th, 2010


Family Skills: Cooperation

A family comprises a group of people, related by genetics and/or affection, who weave their lives together.  Living in a family therefore requires a fluent grasp of cooperation.  This skill enables people to accomplish mutual goals efficiently and also to pursue individual interests without causing problems for others.

Awareness is the first part of cooperation.  You must know what you want and need, such as time to practice a craft or transportation to a meeting.  You must be alert to other people's wants and needs.  You also have to consider other things that need to be done, such as household chores or errands around town.  Forgetting things makes it hard to coordinate everyone's activities.

Planning comes next.  You need to think about all the things on your list now, and prioritize them.  What is most important to finish?  What items have a deadline, or need to be done at regular intervals?  When do you have time available?  Start thinking about what you choose to do, and when, and how.

Communication is the core of cooperation.  Make sure that you tell your family members what your obligations and desires are.  Ask them what they want and need to do, and listen carefully to the answers.  Not only does this make it possible to mesh your schedules comfortably, it keeps you involved with each other's lives and interests, so that you always know what is going on with the people you love.  Remember to update everyone if something changes, like a regular lesson getting cancelled!

Consideration is a vital step in fitting everything together.  Time is a limited resource; you may have other limitations in transportation, vehicles, work space, etc.  It isn't always possible to do all the things that everyone wants, so family members must consider each other's wants and needs as well as their own.  Ideally, everyone's needs should get met, and each person should get to do some of their fun things also.  A healthy family cares enough to work out an arrangement that everyone can live with.

Coordination is the process of creating a family schedule that accounts for the stuff each person needs to do, with special attention to shared resources such as cars or the kitchen.  Some things rank high on most people's lists, such as obligations for a job, school, or religion.  Purely social activities or recreation tend to be more flexible.  Sometimes obstacles can be overcome by arranging a ride from a friend outside the family, or shifting an activity from one time to another.  You may find it helpful to bargain: "If you'll skip your movie on Saturday so I can go to the recital, then I'll get up early on Sunday to drive you to church so you don't have to walk."  Keep a calendar, bulletin board, or other record of important events so that everyone can remember what needs to be done when.

Teamwork is a closely related skill.  Some tasks cannot be done by a single person or simply go a lot faster with extra hands.  Housecleaning and yardwork, for example, are often done by everyone together.  People may divide tasks within a given area, or collaborate on the same task.  It helps to know what you do well and what you don't, and who does which things well.  Pay attention to what other people are doing, how they are moving their bodies, where they are heading next.  Learn how to divide a large job into smaller steps that can be done sequentially, such as assembly-line dishwashing.  Learn how to synchronize actions with a partner to complete a job that is awkward for one person to do alone, such as folding a king-size bedspread.  Either you or your partner can state a plan: "I have these corners.  Let's fold this longways and then you bring your end to me..." etc.  Remember to express appreciation for other people's help when working together.

Followthrough completes the process as you play out the schedule and tasks you have decided.  This means keeping your promises about where you will go and when you will be home.  Sudden unannounced changes can disrupt everyone's plans.  If there is a change, let your family know as soon as possible.  If someone else's plans change, you may need to juggle your activities to accommodate that.  Some people find it helpful to check tasks off a list as they are completed.  Good job!

"Family Skills" also has a permanent landing page.

Green Genre Poetry open to crowdfunded projects

If you are into crowdfunded poetry projects, check out the blog Green Genre Poetry.  Scott Green says he is open to reviewing crowdfunded publications.  So for folks who are writing speculative poetry, this could be helpful, especially if you are publishing a chapbook or other collection.  The blog also reviews conventionally published genre poetry books, posts market news about poetry, and hosts discussions about poetic topics.