Happy Families

In the Tribe, the Mall Rats are forced to live in a situation which is very like one big family. The relationships between older members and younger members are almost paternal and each member of the Tribe must learn to get along with each other.

In a previous article, we talked about sibling rivalry and the fact that a sense of competitiveness often occurs within families.

This week we look at some basic guidelines that we can follow as family members in order to make our family life more successful and enjoyable. When we are talking about family here, we are talking about it in its many forms (single parent, double parent etc).


The first guideline that each member of the family must adhere to is respect for each other (and this is a biggie!). Children should respect adults and understand that the majority of adults do actually have the good of their children at heart. Children should understand that although the adults will not always be right, they usually have the best intentions for their children and they have experience on their side.

In the Tribe, Mouse and Sammy are treated well by responsible older members such as Salene and Pride. The children respect their elders, realizing that they have the life experience. The elders teach the youngsters life skills and educate them along the way. On the other side of the coin, it is important that adults respect the rights of the children and include them in any decision making process. The children should have some input into decisions which will directly affect them. Mouse and Sammy both are given input into discussions and decision making during Series IV.


Communication is another very important pre-requisite for family harmony. This may take the form of a regular family meeting or less formal chats at the dinner table, for instance. We see how the Tribe often discuss issues around the dinner table.
It is important that all family members are listened to equally and that no one member makes all the noise and decisions. Each should have their say. Every member of the family should discuss their feelings, whether it be as a whole family or privately to at least one other member. What you don’t want to see happen is the situation of one family member feeling isolated or cut off and withdrawing.

Honesty is the best policy

There is nothing worse than having family members doing things behind others’ backs. The best policy is to be upfront with your family about your actions. Your parents are much more likely to be understanding if they are involved in the decision making process. A controversial matter should be debated and discussed amongst family members.

Dishonesty leads to guilt as well, which is not healthy for any relationship. Pride, May, Sammy and Mouse all are dishonest towards the rest of the Mall Rats in Tribe IV. They hide their involvement in the game from the others, and this deception is quite destructive both to their reputations and to the confidence of the group.

Support each other

The saying goes that blood is thicker than water. Family members must support each other as there are lots of others out there who certainly will not. If somebody in the family is down it is important that there is somebody there to listen and support. This goes for brothers and sisters as well as parents.

Parents should listen to children but, equally, children should provide a sounding board for parents, too – they often appreciate having their feelings acknowledged by other members of their family, apart from their partner. Strengthened relationships between family members can occur when people take the time to listen to each other (this can also be very satisfying).

Do your share

In the Tribe there is a kind of unwritten expectation that everybody will be proactive and contribute to the tasks around the house, or in this case – the mall. An important factor in any smooth running family is making sure you are doing your bit. Don’t leave it all for a parent or a brother/ sister.

Rather than waiting to be asked, volunteer to do things around the house – it will benefit you in the long run when you leave home and have a number of different skills under your belt. It also sets you up well for future relationships when equality will be expected in terms of how much you contribute. If everybody is pro-active, nobody feels taken advantage of and people are less likely to feel overworked, tired and stressed.

Spend time with each other

Families differ greatly in the amount of time that they spend together. Sometimes individuals get so busy that they spend most of their time apart.

Take some time out to talk to each other about what you have been doing. Plan some activities together (this need not always come from the adults) – for example, plan a game with a sibling or go out together as a family. Rather than continually doing activities in separate rooms (e.g. Computer, TV) try doing some of the things together. Isolation in a household can be useful for short periods but don’t spend your life like this.

Acknowledge strengths

Make sure that everybody is given credit for their unique strengths and that they are praised. One person’s strength should not be given more credence than another. For example, in a boy heavy family it is important that the interests of the one girl child are given equal weight to the boys’ interests. As a boy in this family, it would be your responsibility to make sure that everybody is given a fair input.

But why bother to make the effort?

To be an active member of a close family gives you tremendous advantages-socially, intellectually -from just about every perspective. It can also be really satisfying – a lot of your best times will be family memories. Make the most of them.