The Secrets Of Happy Families

What happy families do right, from telling the family story to creating healthy relationships  across generations.

Bruce Feiler and his family. (Photo by Kelly Hike)

Bruce Feiler and his family. (Photo by Kelly Hike)

We love to love and talk up family. Nothing better. Nothing dearer. But in the thick of it, in the heart of it, when the kids are young and the parents are working, and the sink is full of dishes, and somebody’s crying, and the car payment’s due, and you’re late for school, it can be pretty wild. Straight up hard.

Bruce Feiler was right there, in that spot – in the messy, madcap, impossible heart of it – and he thought ‘there has to be a better way’. He went asking, comparing, looking for advice. New ways.

This hour, On Point: the secrets of happy families.

-Tom Ashbrook


Bruce Feiler, author of “The Secret of Happy Families: Improve your mornings, rethink family dinner, fight smarter, go out and play, and much more.” (@brucefeiler)

Ann Smith, marriage and family therapist, executive director of the Breakthrough Program at Caron Treatment Centers. She also blogs regularly for Psychology Today.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “Books about families fall into two categories: those proclaiming that we’re all doing it wrong (delivered with aFrench accent or the roar of a tiger mom)and those detailing just how ­badly the author’s parents messed up.”

The Huffington Post (Bruce Feiler) “Over the next week, tens of millions of people will do something so familiar it’s easy to forget how radical it is: They will commemorate the worst moments of their past. For Jews, the occasion is Passover, in which they relive their four centuries of slavery in Egypt. For Christians, the occasion is Easter, in which they painstakingly mark the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.”

The New York Times “Family stories are exactly what they sound like. They’re stories of our family history — how we got here, who came before us and what mattered along the way. They’re stories of our recent family past, little legends that define us and highlight what’s important. And they’re stories about our family present: this is why we do what we do, this is what’s important to us.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 30, 2015
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, center left, Minister of the Environment of Peru and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, center right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius, center, pose for photographers during a press visit to the COP21, Paris Climate Conference, site, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

World leaders converge in Paris for the big climate talks. We’ll look at what it will take to get a global climate agreement.

Nov 30, 2015
Shoppers walks in front of a holiday display Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, we’ll add up the dollars and trends and bargains of the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Nov 27, 2015
The punk rock band Sleater-Kinney (from L: Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) (Courtesy the Band)

Feminist punk-rockers, the band Sleater-Kinney, is with us. Reunited. Hotter than ever.

Nov 27, 2015
Josh Baldonado, an administrative assistant at Brown & Brown Insurance, works at a treadmill desk in the firms offices in Carmel, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP)

The end of sitting at work. A new call to get up off our chairs. To stand and move! We’ll look at how that works.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »