To provide flow, a family has to have a goal for its existence. Extrinsic reasons are not sufficient: it is not enough to feel that, well, "Everybody else is married," "It is natural to have children," or "Two can live cheaply as one." These attitudes may encourage one to start a family, but they cannot make it enjoyable. Positive goals are necessary to focus the psychic energies of parents and children common tasks.
Some might be general and long-term, such as planning a particular life-style—to build an ideal home, to provide the best possible education for the children, or to implement a religious way of living in a modern secularized society.
The family must be both differentiated and integrated. Meaning each person must develop his/her uniqueness and if one is successful, the rest of the family is happy and proud and when one is down, the family rallies around him/her. Integration means each person's goals matter to all others.
(My own notes: This reminds me of the Biblical notion to develop our own giftings and yet be united as one body).
How parents interact with a child will have a lasting effect on the kind of person that child grows up to be:
An optimal experience has 5 characteristics:
- Clarity. The children feel that they know what their parents expect from them. Goals and feedback.
- Centering. The children's perception that their parents are interested in what they are doing in the present, feelings and experiences and not whether they will be going to university or get a good job.
- Choice. Children feel that they have a variety of possibilities in which to choose, including that of breaking parental rules—as long as they are prepared to face the consequences.
- Commitment. The trust that allows the child to feel comfortable enough to set aside the shield of his defences and become unselfconsciously involved in whatever he is interested in.
- Challenge. Parents dedication to provide increasingly complex opportunities for action to their children.