Qualities of a strong family

Learn six strengths that families can cultivate to create a sense of well-being and a positive environment.

During the past 35 years researchers at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, and the University of Minnesota-St. Paul studied families in the United States and around the world to learn what the indicators of a strong family are. From this body of work six characteristics have emerged: commitment, spiritual wellness, effective communication, appreciation, time together, and the ability to deal with stress, conflict and crisis.

1.     Commitment – The family as a whole is committed to seeing that each member reaches their potential. This may be accomplished by sharing responsibilities, having reasonable expectations for each other, respecting the roles each of them play in the family, and building each other’s self–esteem.

2.     Spiritual Wellness-This is a healthy way of living that feeds the body, mind, and spirit. Examples would be that the family has a hopeful attitude toward life, have a strong sense of belonging and a belief in a higher being or power.

3.     Effective Communication- Families learn to communicate directly and to be consistent with verbal and nonverbal behavior. They feel comfortable sharing their feeling with each other, enjoy talking and listening to each other and respect each other’s point of views.

4.     Appreciation- Families members recognize the beautiful, positive aspects of others and let them know that these qualities are valued. Families are able to express positively how they feel about each other and show this by gentle touches and thoughtful actions.

5.     Time Together – Strong families spend meaningful time with each other and they do it frequently. They will have a number of common interests, willing to try new activities together and over all really enjoy each other’s company. Often this time together is inexpensive and simple such as a game of kickball with a picnic.

6.     Ability to Deal with Stress, Conflict and Crisis- All the previous strengths combine, create an inner core of power for families to reduce stress and prevent conflict and crisis. Strong families survive and even grow in face of adversity. They tend to look at conflict and crisis as an opportunity to grow closer and support one another. They accept things in life that they know they can’t change and find peace.

One of the strongest examples of a healthy family is how often they eat together. By simply eating five meals a week together as a family, they will enhance their communication and increase time together. Make sure the TV and cell phones are off and away the table.

To assess your current family’s strengths, you can complete the Family Strengths Inventory offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

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