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The Latest Book from Bruce

The Secrets of Happy Families

Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More

The Secrets of Happy Families book coverBest-selling author and New York Times family columnist Bruce Feiler found himself squeezed between aging parents and rising children. He set out on a three-year journey to find the smartest ideas, cutting-edge research, and novel solutions to make his family happier. READ MORE

The Council of Dads

A Story of Family, Friendship & Learning How to Live

The Council of Dads book coverWhen bestselling author Bruce Feiler was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his leg, he could only imagine all the walks he might not take with his daughters, the ballet recitals he would miss, the art projects left undone, and the aisles he might not walk down. READ MORE

Read Bruce’s cancer diary.

Bruce's latest news

Five years ago, PBS asked me if I wanted to make a show on pilgrimage. I said I was interested in something you hear a lot, “I’m not religious; I’m spiritual. I’m on a journey.” Last year I went on six pilgrimages in 12 months–bathing with 100 million people in the Ganges, walking the Jesus Trail in the Galilee, trekking on a 700-mile Buddhist trail in Japan. The experience was life-changing and life-affirming, and the footage is mind-blowing. The series kicks off with 40 American wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan bathing in the sacred waters of Lourdes, something never seen on TV before. The six, hour-long films premiere in December and are available for streaming on pbs.org/sacredjourneys. I hope you are moved as much as we were traveling with American pilgrims to some of the most historic places in the world. I know the experience will trigger some meaningful conversations with your loved ones.

Table of Contents

DISCIPLINE: “Let your kids pick their punishments.”
The institution of the family has undergone dramatic changes in recent decades, but it’s emerged stronger than ever. Eight in ten say the family they have today is closer than the one they grew up in. That’s the good news. Now, the bad: Almost everyone feels completely overwhelmed by family life. There is a better way! Follow the Agile Family Manifesto.
DINNER: “What you talk about is more important than what you eat (or when you eat it).”
No time for family dinner, no problem! You can get all the benefits without sitting down together to eat every night. A day-by-day guide for how to rethink family dinner, and what to talk about when you sit down together.
SEX: “It’s no longer ‘The Talk.’ It’s a series of talks. It’s a conversation.”
Parents are wimps when it comes to talking to kids about sex. But research shows the more parents talk to kids about sex, the later their kids have it and the safer it is when they do. What parents should tell their kids about sex (but don’t).
FIGHTING: “Conflict is the norm. How you resolve that conflict is what matters.”
All families fight. The ones who do it smarter are more likely to succeed. Fighting need not overwhelm positive interactions as long as it’s isolated and used as a source of growth. Six things you should never do in a fight and the one word you should never say.
SIBLING RIVALRY: “Spend at least ten minutes alone with each child every day.”
Siblings under 10 fight an average of 3.5 times per hour for a total of 10 minutes out of every 60. The reason: They take each other for granted. A 3-point plan to reduce those spats.
VALUES: “The goal is not equality; it’s fairness.”
Money doesn’t grow on trees; nor does knowledge about money. Teaching kids financial literacy is one of the most important roles of parents. What does that include? Four simple steps.
THE LAW OF TWO WOMEN: “Have at least two women present in every family discussion.”
Difficult conversations. They’re not just for unhappy families; happy families need to have them as well. So how do we have them better? The new rules: Too few cooks spoil the broth. Vote first, talk later. The law of two women.
JOY: “Celebrating positive moments is more important that being supportive during negative ones.”
To have a happy family, don’t just make adjustments and tell stories. Make fun. How to make long car rides, family vacations, backyard sports, and reunions more enjoyable.