Friday, July 6, 2018

Family Around The Matriarch(s)

Rallying the family around the matriarch(s).

Because families are so busy, today's matriarchs must be flexible and strategically utilize the talents found among other members of the family.  Rule 1: Have a plan and delegate, delegate, delegate. "I couldn't do it alone," says Kegelman. "I do a lot of the cooking, and we usually host the event at our home, but my husband, children and grandchildren all contribute."  It helps to keep the details simple and predictable. Some family matriarchs generate a schedule for rotating the responsibility of who hosts the Christmas dinner or reunion every year. Others create a standard plan for who provides what on the menu for every gathering. Still others designate family members as official photographer or game planner. "Each person has one thing they do best, whether it is a special dish or game," stresses Kegelman. "We have a format that works well."  Rule 2: Make fun the priority.  Kegelman feels being the matriarch doesn't mean she has to be controlling. "I try not to give orders or advice until asked," she says. "I got a lot of that as a young mother and I remember how I felt. My children and grandchildren make their own choices in life. I need to respect that. That is the key to being respected in return."  Anderson and Kegelman both acknowledge that while organization, timelines and delegation of responsibility is important, they strive to keep it all in the context of fun. For Anderson, planning the next family function is the opportunity to let the creative juices flow.  The Modern Woodmen survey indicated that women are the great communicators in the family. According to the results, women are more inclined to keep on top of family news and use the phone, letters and email more often than men. In fact, women are using technology to their benefit for this purpose. Eighty-one percent of women see email, the Internet, family bulletin boards or Web sites as ways to stay in touch with extended family members as compared to 67 percent of men. Internet providers' marketing strategies corroborate this finding. Women are their biggest target market group in promoting the communication value of the Internet. Even senior-aged women have mastered the technology to use it to stay in touch with their families.  A merry matriarchy  Whether you're the matriarch, a matriarch-in-training or simply a family member standing able and ready to assist the woman (or women) in charge, remember as you enter this holiday season to keep the ultimate goal in mind: Work together to keep the family together.  "The food and everything else is important," concludes Kegelman. "But the best part is just having the opportunity to talk and laugh together." 


The Art of Being a Matriarch

By Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard

I went to a funeral today for the grandmother of a high school friend, who, in the 'busy-ness' of life, I mostly stay in touch with through Facebook. I felt compelled to go even though I had not seen her grandmother or her family in over 20 years.

I still remember the first time I met 'Gran'. At 13, I was intimidated - she was wealthy, classy and had, as they say, presence. Given my upbringing, I didn't have a lot of experience socializing with adults and assumed she would be disinterested. To my surprise and wonder, we stood around in her kitchen, for quite awhile, and she took the time to actually get to know her granddaughter's friend. 

Over the years, I was fortunate to attend many a family Sunday dinner at 'Gran's' house. It was a large, vibrant gathering each time with the whole family participating.
Where the love, generosity and kindness of this matriarch was expanded on by the actions of her children and grandchildren. Where the adults spent time sharing wisdom and taking an interest in me as though I was one of them. I swore to myself, at one of those dinners, that one day I would have a family like the one 'Gran' built! 

Today, I continue to be in awe of the women around us, like 'Gran', who excel in their role as the family matriarch. My paternal grandmother, known to all as 'Ma', was such a woman. She attracted 'strays' as they were called; not cats, but other people's children who gathered around her to share in her laughter and her stories.

This is the gift of the self-actualizing Socializer Striving Style. Driven by a need to be connected, they are charismatic and skilled social organizers, and their compassion and sensitivity draw people to them. They are the weavers of the 'social fabric' in families, communities and organizations.
Selfless and generous with their time and energy, they gain vitality by involving themselves in others' lives.

Matriarchs leave behind more than the next generation, they leave a legacy of family norms, rituals and traditions that carry on for generations to come. Being a matriarch is an art - it creates something beautiful that lives on forever. Let's hope it never becomes a lost art so that everyone has a chance to have a 'Gran' or a 'Ma' in their lives.

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