The (Dysfunctional) Family Prayer

With the holiday season coming – and thinking about my elder law practice and clients – I came up with this idea.  Please don’t take offense – it is meant to be a joke – more or less.

Dear ______

As we gather together during this holiday season we recognize and acknowledge that all families have dysfunction to differing degrees, and our family is no different. Each of us harbors feelings about others around this table. These include feelings of anger, jealousy, and resentment; which feelings may or may not be justified or well-founded. But they exist notwithstanding.

We recognize that events will occur which will give rise to conflict over the way members of this family are cared for when they are sick and dying, and how material resources accumulated by some members of this family will be divided among others when those who have accumulated these resources have passed away. We recognize that at these times, emotions will run high and the unresolved issues we have between us will invite us to use these events as an excuse to seek retribution for these past wrongs, real or perceived, and to otherwise behave inappropriately.

When faced with these challenges, help us remember to focus only on the needs and interests of the person whose care is at issue, or whose property is being divided. We ask that we be able to check ourselves before engaging in conduct that we can reasonably anticipate will trigger an angry reaction from those to whom the conduct is directed. We recognize that, in the big picture, having family unity accrues a benefit not just to us, but to future generations of this family; and that the relationships between us and between those future generations is more important and more rewarding than any momentary sense of victory that might be accomplished through prolonged and expensive court battles or angry family showdowns.

And so we ask that when these times of conflict arrive, we be given the strength and wisdom to work toward a mutual goal, resolve family disputes amicably, and do so with respect and appreciation for the bigger picture and each other.

Amen