Kinkeepers …

Martha Montross Huffman - author of Kin KeepersWhere are we having Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas this year?

Who knows where our ancestors are from and when they got here?

Who is your family “glue”?


When we study human growth and development, some of the time is devoted to consideration of family structure, roles, and dynamics.  We talk about functional and dysfunctional families, and the ongoing influence of our families, even as peer pressure and societal expectations become more apparent.

One of my favorite terms during this study actually fits better in a sociological discussion.   Kinkeepers provide an essential function within a family.


“Kinkeeping” is the function of providing “activities related to communication and contact, activities that promote a sense of continuity and solidarity in families.”  (Carolyn J. Rosenthal in Kinkeeping)

Kinkeepers are those family members who provide tangible support for other members, nurture family history and tradition, and keep other family members connected.  Often, this role falls to the matriarch or to the oldest daughter, although anyone can perform the function. 

To identify your family kinkeeper (if you did not immediately do so), answer these questions:

Who do you count on most often to host family gatherings?

Who is the primary family historian, teaching and preserving the family saga to younger generations?

Who is the peacemaker and referee for family disagreements?

Who is the person everyone turns to when family stability is threatened?

Who consistently reinforces the strength of family bonds?

Now let’s go to work … put Kinkeeping into the business environment.  The question are somewhat different, but the intent and the function are the same.  One important difference – do not go by organizational title.  Who actually provides these functions in your workplace?

Who do you count on to host departmental or office gatherings?

Who is most engaged in learning, saving, and passing on the organizational saga?

Who is the peacemaker and referee for office disagreements?

Who is the person everyone turns to when departmental or organizational stability is threatened?

Who consistently reinforces the strength of departmental or organizational connection?

Whatever names pop into your mind are your kinkeepers.

BONUS Question: 

How important are these functions to organizational life?

Organizing the monthly office birthday celebration as I patiently await responses in the Heartland ….



IMAGE: Martha Montross Huffman, author of “Kin Keepers” and a great example of this concept.