Monette Van Lith has put together a workbook for assisting families called Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose and Love. The workbook and its exercises are designed to help family members connect and bond, and to create an environment where everyone can thrive. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Monette very graciously agreed to tell us about her workbook and here’s what she shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about the Family Matters workbook and the work I do. I am a certified life coach and I work with parents who want to level-up their parenting and family life. Parents also come to me when they’re feeling overwhelmed or depleted. Using a very effective coaching model, my clients discover how to reconnect with their inner joy and purpose. I offer both one-on-one and group coaching.
In my previous career I worked at various United Nations Programs in East and West Africa, and in New York at UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Going back to my origins, I was born in the Netherlands, grew up in Suriname, and returned to Europe to attend university. I’ve enjoyed living and working in different parts of the world and am currently based just outside of Boston, in the US.
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose and Love?
I wrote this book during the second half of 2020. What started out as a few sets of exercises to be used in workshops for parents struggling during that time, grew to become the Family Matters workbook. In conversations with parents, questions would come up such as: What are some of the life skills and inner strengths we can help our children develop to navigate an uncertain future? Who are we as a family and what are the values that shape our interactions with each other and the world around us? And, what can we learn about the role of family and the period of childhood in building a just and peaceful society?
The content of the book can be grouped in three broad areas:
Things to create
- A vision for your family
- A family mission statement
- A family vision board
- Designing a family circle
- Collecting and writing the family’s stories
Things to learn
- Family consultation
- Creating coherence and positivity in life
- The role of a growth mindset and encouragement
Things to do
- Family meetings
- Conversations and games
- Be inspired and pray together
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write it?
There is a quote from Abdu’l-Baha in The Promulgation from Universal Peace that says: “A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations, and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation.”
And the Universal House of Justice says:
“The family unit provides an environment within which such lofty and world-embracing principles can be taught and nurtured. It is the matrix in which generation after generation can be reared in the conviction that the well-being of the individual is inextricably bound to the progress and well-being of others.” (24 November 2009 – To the Believers in the Cradle of the Faith)
These two passages help me think about the important role of the family in fostering the well-being of its individual members and in contributing to the betterment of society. As individuals we are part of different communities: our Baha’i community, of course, but also the communities of our school, our neighborhood, our place of work, etc. Likewise, we form part of those communities as a family.
As a parent myself, I am learning so much from the conversations that are happening in many different spaces, within the Baha’i community and society at large. Parents want to learn together with others how to create that environment described in the teachings of our Faith. When putting together the topics covered in the book I thought about what kinds of activities and ideas might help families to build unity of vision and purpose.
Baha’i Blog: Who is its target audience?
The book is intended for any and all families with children of all ages. As individuals and as a family we are always growing and evolving. This book can be used as a tool to create a roadmap: defining purpose, values and destination together, helps to make united decisions, no matter what the future holds. Knowing where we’re going, and how we hope to get there can help strengthen bonds of unity at any point in the life of a family.
Baha’i Blog: How might Baha’i families make the most use out of your book?
The aim of this book is to be a resource for parents. There are nine chapters in the book and you can start anywhere with any of the family activities and then work your way through the book in whatever way works best for your family and at your own pace. Depending on the age of the children, you can start with conversation topics to make dinner more engaging. Or the parent(s) can start out with creating a vision board with each child. Or, if you want to initiate a regular family meeting to bring everyone together and teach consultation and cooperation, you could use some of the ideas from the chapter on how to organize family meetings. To make things easier, I have included lots of templates to guide the activities. There is a special chapter with inspirations and prayers for families that includes a number of Baha’i selections.
If parents/families want a little extra support in doing the activities, they contact me and we set up a few sessions to work together. I also have a website where people can learn more about my work: www.monettevanlith.com
Baha’i Blog: What was something you learned in the process of creating this book?
I learned that meaningful family activities do sometimes take a little extra effort to execute but that they can add to the harmony in the family and the engagement of everyone involved, regardless of their age. Thanks to Bre Vader from Leaven Media, the book has beautiful illustrations on every page which can be colored in, thereby turning the book into a unique family journal.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Monette, for taking the time to share this with us.
You can purchase Monette’s workbook here on Amazon: Family Matters: Filling Your Home with Purpose and Love