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Tools & Shortcuts:

Here are some tools and shortcuts that make it quicker and easier for you to assess the extent to which your family or any family is at risk. They help you sample behavior and attitudes and rapidly evaluate how family members get along with each other. You can quickly focus on the marital and parent/child relationships and on the behavior and attitudes of each person in the family.

The key to using these tools is understanding the idea of sampling. This simply means looking at a few examples of behavior and attitudes and coming to conclusions based on those few examples. If you want to know if an individual’s behavior and attitudes are contributing to his family’s being at risk, you could observe everything he does for a year and draw your conclusions from those observations. This is neither practical nor necessary. Rather, you need only look at a few examples of his behavior over a short period of time. If you are systematic as you get this sample of his behavior, your conclusions will be about as good as they would be if you spent a year.

Individual Risk:

Figure Two contains a sample of behavior and attitudes from PART ONE. Here, positive or proactive behavior is emphasized. Instead of looking at behavior that puts your family at risk, Figure Two focuses on the counterpart of that behavior. It includes behavior and attitudes that enable your family to succeed, to avoid being at risk. You may find it instructive to revisit PART ONE to locate the signs and see where they fit into the range of risk areas covered there.

If the answer to each of the Individual Risk questions@ in Figure Two is yes for a member of the family, it is safe for you to conclude that his or her behavior and attitudes are not contributing to the family’s being at risk. If the answers to some of the questions are no, the individual’s behavior and attitudes are problematic for the family. Often, people think their behavior is their business and that they should not be held accountable by other family members. They say, “You have no right to tell me what to do or how to live. It is my life and I am in charge of it.” It is easy to imagine Leroy saying something like that to TJ or to TJ’s mother.

Here is the problem. The individual’s behavior and attitudes are jeopardizing the family. An appropriate response might be:

Your behavior and attitudes are your business but also are my business because they put our family at risk. I care about our family and am concerned about anything that threatens it. Your behavior and attitudes are that kind of concern for me. I worry about you and also am afraid for our family.

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