Why did I choose this topic? Where am I going with family? Why is it so important? What’s next?
My mother died when I was 19. As a result, I’ve dealt with the pedestrian struggles of a broken family my entire adult life. It’s been 8 years, yet I’m still reminded of our family’s emotional deficiencies on a daily basis. I’ve seen how a broken family can affect social relationships, personal development and overall well-being. I’ve also noticed how having a strong and loving family can be a huge personal advantage in anyone’s life.
I’m now a point in my life where everything is changing. My father sold his business. Then he sold our family house. My siblings and I are scattered across the map with no concrete future plan. Everything feels unstable. I love the work I do and the people I’m with, but I still have an appetite for belonging.
In October 2016, I hit my head. Hard. The brain injury that followed took me out of school and just about all other productive activities for over a year. I’m a very proactive person—prolific inventive type—so doing nothing was not an option for me. During that year, I focused my energy on the one thing I could control: relationships. After all we’d been through, I decided that my family was going to be at the heart of this endeavour.
During my year off, I spent a lot of time with my family. As a product designer, I would think about how certain processes could be improved. Our family felt like it needed some love. I felt like I could fill the gaps and fix the holes.
I would ask myself: How could we better spend time together? How could we better communicate, both together and one-on-one? How could I be better informed about what’s going on in my family members’ lives?
Then I thought in product terms. What if the family of the future had the appropriate tools to properly manage these relationships? What would those tools look like? Amazon Alexa? J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron man? Rosie from the Jetsons?