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Parenting Teens - Christian Family Resources

What Kind of Family Do You Want?

What Kind of Family Do You Want?

Your last name attaches you to a specific family. It identifies the character, or “brand,” of your family tree. Your last name associates you with other members of your family. When others hear my name, I want it to inspire thoughts of strong faith, honesty, and integrity. Take some time and give thought to the values you desire your name to inspire in the minds of others.

Understanding the heritage of your name is important as you continue to build upon it one generation at a time. You may be wondering if it is possible to change negative perceptions built up around a specific name. For some, the answer is “yes.” For others, the truthful answer is “in time.”

If the generations before you made poor life choices that ultimately created a negative legacy, you have the option to choose a different path in life and to establish better values by which to live moving forward. Time proves all things. The best advice I can give is: Live your life by such values that when people speak ill of you, no one will believe it. Remember God’s promise: he has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

In the movie Christmas Vacation, starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, there is a scene that spoofs the Griswold’s family Christmas traditions. Ellen Griswold’s cousin Eddie shows up in a broken-down motorhome he parks in the Griswold’s front yard. Eddie is a bubba from the back woods and doesn’t fit in with Clark’s prestigious pedigree or the image he is working hard to portray. Eddie doesn’t have a penny to his name and he continues to embarrass the entire family with his crazy antics throughout the movie.

It is hilarious to watch the character of Eddie until you realize every family has an “Eddie” somewhere in its family orchard...including yours. It may be a sibling, uncle, aunt, or cousin. The fruit on their tree not only looks bad, it tastes bad too. It is embarrassing when others talk with or around you about crazy “Eddie.” Family members like Eddie often adopt values of their own for their lives that really don’t align with yours.

What do you do with the Eddies in your family orchard? You basically have three choices:

1. Do nothing and continue to allow them to grow wild, disrupt your life and taint your name. If this is your choice, you are choosing avoidance. Failure to recognize an issue exists and lacking the courage to address it leads to a lack of self-respect and the loss of others respect. You give the disruptive family member control rather than assuming control of a negative situation.

2. Confront them and hope change occurs. Confrontation in love is often a powerful means of achieving resolution. However, in order to change, people have to be open to change. If it looks as though your family member is committed to change, the next step is to set boundaries and help them define actionable goals. Again, time proves all things.

3. Prune them from your family orchard by creating a healthy distance. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to remove the negative influence of a destructive individual altogether. Especially when their behavior and actions are hurting or endangering family members. Tough love is real love and may eventually usher in change.

When defining your family’s name, decide what values, belief systems, character traits, and disciplines you want to instill today that can be transferred to the next generation tomorrow. It is like establishing an orchard, one tree at a time. The root system you establish today will grow a strong tree with healthy fruit that will sprout new vibrant trees from season to season for generations to come.

Guy Hatcher –  The Legacy Guy – is passionate about helping families plan their legacy. His book, Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money, is available at Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him at

Publication date: January 20, 2015