family time

The Family

The family’s relationship style is a dominant force that lurks in the shadows and backgrounds of every relationship. Families and individuals have a general style and way of relating to each other. Each family passes its relationship style to the next generation. For most, these relationship styles continue throughout adulthood.
What type of family do you come from, moreover, what kind of family are you creating? Good, bad or indifferent, they are family. Our family type gives us the template we use to connect with and communicate with the others. Some skills are beneficial while others are detrimental. Family traditions, holidays, and crises provide the best measure to determine your type of family. As stated previously, functional families look similar. It is crises and anxiety events that mark and identify a family’s coping and survival skills.

The pack family is an example of a family functioning at its best even with the threat of a crisis. This is why many families will look like a pack when they are not in crisis management mode. It is also why many families aspire to the virtues of a pack. Fortunately, families change and mature as they cycle through different developmental milestones. The arrival of children, toddler years, school-age years, teenage years, the launching of children, back to being a couple, and finally, the visits of grandchildren are just a few milestones to name.

Getting It Right

Successful families and individuals adjust and change with each successful crises and family life cycle. They mature, cope, and grow with the different developmental stages. Those individuals aspire to recreate a better family than their family of choice. Without self-awareness, hard work, and forgiveness, we can only advance as far as our family of origin. It’s important to note that we cannot create a pack within our family of origin if one does not already exist. We can only create a pack within our family of choice, the family in which we lead and have a direct influence.

I believe every family can become a pack and function as a pack. However, some families get stuck in a cycle or become comfortable with their current ways of coping and problem-solving. They fail to evolve and mature to the next level, the pack level. They subsequently, pass on their impairments and dysfunctions to the next generation. The upcoming generation launches from an impaired level with unfinished family business from previous generations. Therefore we must sometimes emotionally return home to mature and grow to the next stage.


It is imperative that we forgive the previous generation. In other words, we must accept our family without shame, guilt, or regret. It is that forgiveness that changes our paradigm allowing us to move on to the next level of interdependence without impairments. We must deal with dependence and independence issues before we are capable of interdependence. We must fully develop a sense of self before we can create a sense of family.

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pack family
“I’m free to be myself and enjoy being around my family,” Pack member.

The Pack

Understanding the pack requires a paradigm shift. Pack members are neither dependent nor independent of each other. They are interdependent and have a collaborative mentality hence each member is just as valuable as the family system.

The Wild

In the wild, the pack is in a category all by itself. The pack has legitimate leaders with clear lines of authority with a pecking order. Leadership is questioned from time to time but is respected once established. The family reinforces social norms and rules through order and discipline among the ranks. Although the packs encourage members to be creative and adventurous, every member has a responsibility and role to support the family.


Individuality does not threaten the identity of the pack because the relationship bonds of these families are secure. The pack values every member. Members have a strong sense of trust and loyalty. They value relationships and tend to develop stable relationships with each other. In addition, they recognize how they are separate but connected. The relationships are interconnected and interdependent. Therefore, differences are celebrated and viewed as strengths. These families are flexible and adjust easily when needed.


Packs are emotionally and intellectually interdependent. “We” is just as important as “me.” They are comfortable with themselves and tend to manage anxiety well. They cope well with emotional distance and closeness without becoming overly anxious and nervous. The relationship is responsive rather than reactionary. Since conflicts do not threaten the relationship, they provide opportunities to define their position and self. additionally, members are competitive but not at the expense of others. They operate from an abundance mentality and do not compete for resources. Consequently, the members tend to be good problem solvers and seek win/win solutions.

Be sure to check out the conclusion in the next edition.

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family herd
“The closer I am to my family, the less I feel like an individual,” The Herd.

The Herd Family

The herd family is highly emotional and reactionary. They huddle and cluster together when anxious. If one member becomes anxious, the whole herd becomes anxious. They are very reactionary and blindly follow each other even if the others are wrong. Being alone is far worse than wrong. Togetherness and traditions are very important. Individuality and differences are discouraged as it threatens the family’s identity.

The Wild

In the wild, the herd’s survival is dependent on everyone looking and acting alike. They are anxiety driven and reactionary. If one member is spooked, they are all run and ask questions later. “Why are we running?” “I don’t know. Why were you running?” “I was running because you were running.” In the end, no one knows why they are running. This is how stampedes are started. Humans are the same with emotional stampedes. Gossip and rumors run ramped as there are no secrets within the herd.


If you have a conflict with one a herdsman, be prepared to face the whole family. If the herd perceives itself stronger than the threat, outsiders need to beware. The herd will close ranks to protect its own. However, the herd does have a strong survival instinct. Members recognize that they are safe from predators so long as they can outrun the weakest and slowest members. The rebellious or “different” members (different in the sense of being an individual) are easily picked off.


Herdsmen tend to develop fearful-attachment relationship types. That is, they have a fear of abandonment. These individuals need constant

contact and reassurances and become nervous with emotional distance. Herdsmen are very sensitive to emotional changes within the system and are keen at reading others. When upset, they need others to “talk it out.” Outsiders may view them as clingy and smothering. Herd members are emotionally dependent on each other and hold others responsible for their emotional security and wellbeing.

To be heard in these families, members talk loud and fast. Some members complain of no privacy. The bonds of these relationships are enmeshed and intertwined. The boundaries are often weak and inconsistent. It is difficult for members to define their self as they do not understand where they end and others begin.

The Roles

Members play a reluctant role within the herd. Sometimes the emotional intensity of the herd is too great and specific roles develope to help cope and remain connected with the others. Or, they attempt to escape by withdrawing. When withdrawing is not a viable option, these members may explode away by creating a conflict or rebelling against the family. Other members become the lightning rod for trouble, the black sheep of the family or the butt of every joke. Some manage to become the favorite or the golden child who can do no wrong. The peacemaker, the lost child, nevertheless, each member has a role to fulfill. When one member leaves, another emerges to take their place. The herd needs its cast of players to reduce or cope with the emotional tension within the family.

Herdsmen loyalties are ambivalent and reluctant at best. The herd puts down individuality and growth with sabotage. Members are pressured, threatened or bullied into compliance and put back in place. Guilt is often the weapon of choice. “Who do you think you are?” Or “how dare you think you’re better than the rest of us.” Herdsmen tend to be very competitive and have a win-lose mentality. Within the herd, it’s all about “me” and survival.


The final family type, The Pack, is coming soon.

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solitary hermit
“I left home at 17 and haven’t been back since,” the Solitary Hermit.

Solitary Hermits

Solitary hermit families are loners and withdrawn. Their motto is “every man for his self.” Independence and individuality are promoted and is more critical than togetherness. Members tend to be logical and react to emotions with distance. Solitary hermits tend to develop avoidant relationship styles. Avoidant relationships seek emotional distance to regain a sense of self and reduce anxiety. Rigid boundaries are often put in place to protect and keep others from getting too emotionally close. There are little communication and trust of others. Respect is the codeword for love which is far less threatening. Their loyalties are to their selves.


In the wild, solitary hermits tolerate others to procreate. They prefer to be alone, or in a small group, however, they will assemble if food and prey are plentiful. Sometimes, members are kicked out or chased away. They are very patient, quiet, and don’t mind being alone.


In relationships, solitary hermits become anxious when others are too close and tend to withdraw when stressed. When confronted, they become aggressive or merely walk away. They are easy-going until they are backed into a corner, then they tend to become aggressive. They emotionally explode to create distance. Rather than work through emotional hurt and pain, solitary hunters will emotionally cut off family members. It’s not uncommon for these members to hold and nurse a grudge for years.


Members have a no-deal mentality and simply withdraw rather than work out their problems and conflicts. They fear conflict but will use it to push others away. They mask their insecurities and present themselves as decisive, independent, and confident. Others may perceive them as emotionally cold and disconnected. Members are emotionally and intellectually independent of each other.


Be sure to check out Part Three, The Herd; coming soon.

Check out more of Dr. Dave’s work.