In this blog series, Portrait of an Intentional Family, we have introduced you to the Allen family, one of the first Intentional Families we interviewed as a part of the Intentional Family Project. The intention of this blog series is to share the story of how Intentional Families have walked through the four steps of the Intentional Family Process so you can get a glimpse of what it looks like in real life.
Over the past two months, we uncovered the steps the Allen family took in order to recognize their family identity and establish their family plan. Their shared values led them to create specific, measurable goals in order to live a family life of freedom and peace. In order to achieve these goals, the Allen family created an Intentional Family Plan, where they created specific boundaries for family life that helped support their values and goals.
During our interview, the Allen family invited me around their home. In each of their common spaces, the Allens had carefully cultivated tangible and intangible reminders of their values and goals. In their kitchen space, the Allens posted their family calendar and menu planning guides on their refrigerator, in which they set reminders for how they wanted to spend their personal and couple time throughout the week. Tacked on the wall beside their refrigerator was a chart they entitled the “Debtonator,” where they tracked their financial goals on a monthly basis. Hanging in their living room was the family motto and values flag they created during their pre-marital counseling sessions.
Beyond these more practical reminders, the Allens also showed me how they purposefully decorated their home – their entry way, living room, and guest room – with phrases, images, and items that invited friends and guests to share in the peace and freedom they hoped to achieve in family life. Their greatest joy was when a visitor to their home commented on the peace they felt inside the four walls. For them, this helped confirm they were on the right track, and gave them motivation to keep with their Intentional Family Plan. As they mentioned during our interview,
“We have visual reminders of our identity and goals around our home so that we stay on track with achieving them. But we have written them on dry erase boards because we realize that we can’t be rigid when life happens.”The Allen Family
While the Allen family created an Intentional Family Plan for their family life and set boundaries around their way of life, they were wise enough to know that in family life, life happens. A big part of their success lay in their ability to negotiate when a boundary needed to remain firm, and when a boundary needed to be flexible. For the Allens, clear, consistent, and respectful communication was key. They had a weekly date night on Friday nights, and they unified in declining other invitations in order to keep it. For other boundaries, they would work together to decide when they would allow an exception. As they mentioned to me,
“One weekend, as we were strolling around an antiques store, we spotted a cabinet that would work perfectly in our dining room space. We had been looking for a while, and, given the uniqueness of this find, we decided that adjusting our spending plan for the week was something we were able and willing to do in order to make that purchase.”The Allen Family
The Allen family maintained a healthy balance between being flexible with their boundaries, but also knowing that being too flexible with all boundaries can sabotage their family’s ability to achieve their goals.
By setting reminders and negotiating boundaries, the Allen family is able to stay on-track, but also meet the unexpected of life, as they journey toward peace and freedom. In our next blog, we will reveal the steps the Allen family took in order to determine if their Intentional Family Plan was actually working. Until then, we invite you to begin your own steps to an intentional family life. You can start here with our introduction to the four-step Intentional Family Process to begin the journey!