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All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.  (Leo Tolstoy)

Your family is like other families in many ways. It has its ups and downs, strengths and vulnerabilities, its problems and opportunities. Your family is not perfect nor is it without its moments of perfection. As is true for other families, yours is somewhere between what you hope it can be and what you sometimes fear it might become. Buddha expressed the tension of hope and fear like this:

A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

Tolstoy’s happy family, Buddha’s beautiful flower garden, and your hope symbolize the potential for harmony and well-being for you and yours. Within this potential also lies the risk of unhappiness, disharmony, and havoc. Your challenge is to conscientiously manage that risk.

The first step in managing the risk is to see that signs[1]@ of risk can be overlooked or misinterpreted. Here is the key to understanding. Your family is you, your spouse@@ or other adults, and your children and the relationships you have with each other. The idea is no more complicated than that.

How is each person in your family getting along? Is each relationship usually positive and supportive or are there problems? The difficulties of each family member and their relationship troubles are signs your family is at risk. As you read the following vignettes, see if anyone in your family is somewhere in the picture, even if only a little.

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