Friday, April 16, 2010

Your Family Constitution by Scott Gale

Genre: Non-Fiction
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 128
Book Source: Review copy courtesy of Phenix & Phenix Publicists

Just in time… a formerly stressed-out dad’s perspective provides a common-sense playbook to reach family harmony. As today’s parents cope with scores of competing obligations and responsibilities, raising kids with good core values is an extreme challenge. Combine this perpetual struggle with the effects of technological distractions, societal lack of discipline, and failures to communicate, and it is not hard to understand why so many parents throw up their hands in defeat and accept mere survival.

Author Scott Gale refused to settle for chaos. Instead, he designed a powerful tool that allowed him to alleviate family challenges through the thoughtful application of clarity, consistency and commitment (the “3Cs”). Your Family Constitution tells his story and provides a step-by-step process that parents can follow to balance schedules and produce time they never before had, improve family communication, relieve pent-up frustration, and wrap healthy boundaries around core values; applying rewards, consequences and accountability standards to maintain them.

Having read numerous parenting books and used a number of systems, strategies and techniques with varying degrees of success when my children were growing up I was very interested to see whether Your Family Constitution brought anything new to the table ... and surprisingly it did. Sharing his family's experience with refreshing honesty and humour, and some very funny cartoons, Scott Gale details the makings of the family system that brought order to his chaotic family life.

Your Family Constitution is no quick-fix, and kudos to Scott Gale for not making it out as such. Defining and implementing your own family constitution takes time and effort; an ability to self analyse, a period of family observation, and willingness of the entire family to make a commitment to the process. It involves each member of the family; adult and child contributing ideas and opinions about family and individual goals, values, issues, boundaries, rewards and consequences but while everyone is entitled to their say, parents retain ultimate authority. The 3 C's mentioned in Your Family Constitution; clarity, consistency and commitment are a mainstay in many parenting handbooks I've read but this was the first that used these and other strategies to involve and validate all members of the family.

If your enjoyment of 'family' is overshadowed by stress, if you're experiencing difficulties balancing the family/parenting/work scenario, or if you feel like your household is chaos personified then you'll benefit from reading Your Family Constitution, no matter the age of your children. Actually this guidebook should be recommended reading for all parents but ideally it would be best implemented in families with young school age children through to teens. I did think that I may have missed the boat with this one as my boys are 18 and 16 but I found plenty of ideas relevant to my own family dynamics. This is a really good guidebook for bringing harmony to the battle zone and joy back to family time, yes it involves hard work, but anything worthwhile is worth working for. As Scott Gale states "replicate my process, rather than my content... Find the recipe that works best for your household."

Scott Gale has an informative website with additional tools, templates and resources to help you design your own family constitution.


  1. Great review Sheree! I really enjoyed this as well.

  2. I could do with this as chaos seems to rule in my house and I don't even have the excuse to say I work.

  3. This was a great review. I want to read this book. I just read "How to Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. I am having trouble with my daughter and anything I can read to make things better I will read.

  4. Glad to your read your thoughts on this book Sheree! Now that I know you think it of value, along with Alaine's high opinion of the book, I know that I really should get my hands on this book.

    I think the hardest part would be the implementation. Have you tried implementing any of the suggestions given?

  5. I so happen to know someone that could probably use this book!! Thanks for the review!

  6. Viv ~ I'm sure there's a sign on my front door saying "chaos rules". Don't worry you are not alone!

  7. Cheryl ~ I'm sure the strategies in this one work if you're willing to put the time in. I read anything and everything when my boys were younger, I wish Your Family Constitution was around then :-)
    All the best with your daughter!

  8. ibeeeg ~ I think you'd enjoy this one, I do think the strategy of the family constitution would be better implemented as a whole when kids are younger but I'm using a few tips with my grown up boys; the family meeting and re-allocation of some household chores on a choice basis. I'll let you know how it goes :-)


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