5 things business families must do | Inquirer Business

5 things business families must do

/ 02:10 AM November 30, 2023

Helping family businesses improve their dynamics is my mission. If relationships flourish, the business also profits.

In 1995, I did my dissertation on the topic, using the family systems approach described by my mentor, National Social Scientist Maria Lourdes “Honey” Carandang in her book “Filipino Children Under Stress.”

Published by Ateneo de Manila University Press in 1987, the book was relaunched recently by De La Salle University Press. I did the foreword for this new edition, and following are passages that continue to guide me in interacting with business families.


1. Face, rather than avoid, issues

“The family cannot sweep tension under the rug for a long time,” says Carandang, who heads MLAC Institute.


Many families, out of misguided tradition or even fear, tend to avoid sensitive issues. But these balloon into greater conflict, causing more pain.

The family systems approach urges families to deal with uncomfortable truths, with the guidance of a psychologist if needed, so that everyone may heal.

2. Recognize the real power in the family

“Knowing the real power in the family is important to decide on the most effective strategy,” says Carandang.

For instance, even if family members say that the powerful person is the father because he brings home the money, I often discover and take into account that the quiet power may lie in the mother, who, even if she plays the role of the meek homemaker, is the one who controls the purse strings, and thus, makes the key decisions in the family.

3. Deal with the family as a whole, without focusing on just one individual

“In the past, the individual is the patient,” says Carandang. “Today the family is the patient.”

Even if families insist that one child is the black sheep, I firmly request that everyone’s role be articulated in discussions. The so-called “troublemaker” may sometimes just be mirroring negative conditions in the family.


“The child, feeling overwhelmed by these [family] conditions, may consequently learn not to verbalize their feelings directly, especially if these are negative feelings toward the adults in the family,” says Carandang. “They may thus unconsciously express themselves through ‘misbehavior.’”

Carandang and I believe that the Filipino family is the most essential unit of society, a topic that we have collaborated on via the book “The Filipino Family Surviving the World,” published by Anvil.

4. Affirm each person’s unique capabilities

Parents often ask me to tutor their children for competitions or help them be “number one in school.” I remind them that while they are blessed with intellectually-gifted children, they should make doubly sure that their kids also develop socially and emotionally.

“A [well-rounded] framework is especially important to the development of the gifted child,” says Carandang, “so that they do not grow into an ‘intellectual monster’ who is emotionally retarded, morally undeveloped, or immoral.

“There are many doors to the self. The child may excel in music, dancing, mechanics. Although these aptitudes may be common knowledge, in the family it is not enough that they remain mere knowledge. Parents must genuinely value these nonacademic talents and communicate their importance to the child.”

5. Raise children with unconditional love to be resilient

“It is advisable not to shield children from knowing the harsh realities of life,” says Carandang, “but their awareness of these realities must be accompanied by parental assurance that ‘Together, we will try and we can make it.’”

Parenting is often one of two extremes. Helicopter parents shield kids from any discomfort, while negligent parents never teach them to respect boundaries, thus providing no sense of safety. In both cases, children do not experience unconditional love.

“Unconditional positive regard is a basic psychological need,” says Carandang. Growing up without it leaves scars in adulthood, often causing rivalry, jealousy, resentment in business families.

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For book inquiries, message Martha Umali at +63916-736-3082 or at www.facebook.com/mlacinstitute.

TAGS: All in the Family, family businesses

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