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The Intentional Family:: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties
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The Intentional Family:: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  158 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Today's family is in crisis. Many diverse factors have combined to weaken its structure in American society: the conflicting needs and schedules of dual working parents; the ongoing fragmentation of our civic, cultural, and religious communities; the prevalence of divorce and remarriage; the advent of technological distractions like video games and computers. What was once ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 1997)
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I really wanted more out of this book. Doherty starts out strong in the first chapter. The book has a good basis and good ideas. Unfortunately, it reads a little like it was written by a high-schooler trying to hit a minimum word count. I recommend reading the first chapter on why being an intentional family is important, and the last chapter on how to be an intentional family. Maybe read the chapter on couples. And skim the rest. Or not. Unless you have no idea how to throw a child's birthday p ...more
Nov 26, 2014 Jenny rated it really liked it
Great book. It is nearly 20 years old, and only slightly outdated. It's amazing how much families and people stay the same! :)
I am a new empty nester, and I've been contemplating our family traditions--what needs to change, what we should continue, etc.--as our family dynamic changes.
Just notes to myself:
Our family rituals include: Christmas (Chinese dinner, jammies, reading of A Christmas Carol, composing our family holiday card, a family photo, a decorating party, reading of Bible, ornament to
Apr 09, 2014 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Doherty offers clear advice on improving and creating family rituals, or in other words, being intentional about family life in order to combat the forces of entropy. "A family, like a canoe, must be steered or paddled, or it won't take you where you want to go."

This book was required for a college course I wanted to take, but couldn't fit into my schedule, so when I was at the bookstore buying books for my other classes, I picked this one up. I first read it before I had children, and while it
Feb 02, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It's well written and gave me some good perspective, insight and background for being even more intentional with my family. I particularly liked the section on the holidays, as I'm always trying to create more meaning and less obligation at that time of year.
Nov 11, 2010 C rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I usually don't like this sort of "how-to" self-help book format. But I like this one. It is well-written and well done with good ideas and helpful illustrating stories. How to strengthen ritual in your family. Some things in this book have really stayed with me, like his discussion of how vacations are important for storing up a bank of shared memories--no matter if they are not the most wonderful and perfect time at the time. And also his addressing how rituals that were dear to parents change ...more
Nikki Whipple
May 17, 2014 Nikki Whipple rated it really liked it
This book is a bit on the older side. All very obvious suggestions, but it is good to have self-helpy reminders. Yes, you should know to acknowledge your spouse when he/she comes home, but people get distracted and forget.
Dec 12, 2011 Adriane rated it really liked it
I've been thinking about family traditions and rituals a lot lately as I try to decide what memories I want to make for my children. Life is short, especially my life with little kids in the house. I want to be more intentional about how we relate to one another, celebrate holidays and one another. This book helped me think through my hopes and intentions for my family and make some decisions about how to make it happen.

One of the best lines in the book is a quote from Anna Karenina, "All happy
Dec 06, 2014 Shannon rated it liked it
Read most of this. Like the majority of self help books, could be condensed to a pamphlet without all the examples. Desperately needs updating (a chapter about the entire family in their devices, please!) but a good reminder on what quality time truly entails).
Feb 18, 2016 Cyndi rated it it was amazing
This was a great book! The lessons are invaluable to today's family.
Nov 12, 2010 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book should be The Intentional Family: The importance of rituals in building family ties. This book is all about family rituals. I found the section on couple rituals, and having a weekly date night quite interesting. I also liked the introduction. I didn't feel the need to read the entire book however, since it was many variations on the same theme--that of creating rituals unique to your family to create a sense of family identity and togetherness.
Just re-read this book, and enjoyed reading about how to create rhythms in ours and our children's lives, and honor our partners too. I think it's the kind of text that could help families as they are being formed, but honestly Simplicity Parenting seems actually to do this job better and more richly. This was just my first introduction to many of the rituals and routines that help us make sense of our lives, and gain satisfaction from them.
Sep 29, 2012 Claudia rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Written by a family therapist who gives practical advice for how to be an Intentional Family, as opposed to an Institutional or Psychological Family. Basically, the ages of "having to do it for the family" and "having to do it for the people in the family" have culminated in the current age of - if you want to be in a family with me, let's figure out some was to keep it strong.
Stephanie Friant
Apr 27, 2011 Stephanie Friant rated it really liked it
Great and basic ideas. Can see how creating rituals is helpful for relationships...we have them in the church already! Can't wait until our nice weather icecream shop and walk ritual starts in a month or so...

A list of more ideas at the end of the book would have been helpful to start thinking more about what would work for us. Discussions with a mom's group helped with this.
May 31, 2008 Lindsay rated it really liked it
This book is pretty much summed up in the title. The author illustrates the importance of being intentional when it comes to families...he outlines some key aspects of that...eating together, creating traditions, etc. He also gives ideas on how to improve on each of the areas. I enjoy studying families from an academic perspective so this book was right up my alley.
Jan 30, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it
Read this on the plane to Puerto Rico. Quick read, but I found some good ideas and it made me think about ways I want to spend time with my kids and simple traditions that might be useful glue as kids get older and our lives get faster and more complicated. Helped with thinking about priorities. I recommend it.
Feb 20, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it
I had skimmed through this book before when my husband was reading it for a class. It has seriously good basic information on setting up family rituals so that you can grow stronger and foster happy relationships. It's a quick read and it doesn't hit you over the head with it's message. I recommend it.
I think this book has some good ideas and is worth reading. I think I was just hoping for more. I wanted more statistics of how family traditions aided families. I wanted more ideas for creating family traditions. Like I said, I think it's worth reading, but I wasn't crazy about it.
Nov 18, 2008 amy rated it really liked it
although i was glad to have someone articulate the importance of ritual to family satisfaction, i wished he had included more traditions that did not rely heavily on ice cream. like a good valentine's day tradition. preferably involving a costume, but not a french maid costume.
Oct 19, 2010 Dori rated it really liked it
Great practical suggestions for families wanting to stay connected during these busy times. I'm in graduate school to become a family therapist and I borrowed this book from the library for some ideas, but it has such wonderful advice that I'm going to buy my own copy.
Mar 05, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Hate to put it on the abandoned shelf, but for now that's where it goes. Lots of good thoughts about building family relationshops throught creating rituals and traditions, but I was too busy being pregnant and breaking up two fighting boys to read the whole thing.
Jul 13, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the chapters I didn't read b/c they didn't apply to my situation, but I really liked the parts that I did read. It is very helpful to read how to make my decisions more intentional and how that effects my family now and in the future. A very good read.
Feb 10, 2009 Kelli rated it really liked it
This was a really good book with great ideas of how to be more intentional about the every day little things you do as a family. It centers around the simple things; bedtime routines, mealtimes, date nights, birthday and holiday rituals. I enjoyed it.
Wonderful! Every parent should read this book. So much of what is described is what we have grown up with in functional families, but he has a very defined and strong view of the importance of family and family rituals which is refreshing to see in print.
Jul 25, 2009 A rated it it was amazing
This book has very practical advice on how to bring more bonding "rituals" into your family despite the challenges of modern hectic lifestyles. All suggestions are very simple, and serve to bring more cohesion between couples and families.
Jul 06, 2008 Kristyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting a stronger family
I'm only half way through this book but I already have found several ideas to strengthen my family. This is a great book and it has several ideas about how you have a closer-nit family through rituals. Very insightful.
Janet Boie
Feb 22, 2012 Janet Boie rated it it was amazing
This is a MUST read for anyone who has kids at home and is trying to balance work, family, marriage, church, and all the other extra curricular activities out there while maintaining a strong connection to your kids and spouse!
Mar 08, 2016 Elsha rated it really liked it
Read this is college for a class and found it even more applicable today. Discusses the benefits to families in establishing daily and yearly rituals as a means to strengthen family bonds and connectivity. Easy read.
May 02, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I read this book for a family recreation class I took at BYU. It's a really good book focusing on the value of traditions, as well as how to build, adapt, and maintain them. I wish everyone knew the stuff in this book.
Jane H
Sep 15, 2010 Jane H rated it really liked it
A great book to increase the rituals of a family, including daily, weekly, monthly, and annual ritual ideas. This book is grounded in pragmatism as well, which makes its application a bit less daunting.
Mar 11, 2009 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good book, it had some good suggestions on making routines into bonding rituals. We will be making our family dinner more meaningful using some of his techniques as well as bed time routines.
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