Strategies for family problem solving

Strong families do experience stress, conflict and crisis. However, they have developed decision making and problem solving skills to deal with the challenges, changes and choices they face together daily.

Strong families do experience stress, conflict and crisis. However, they have developed decision making and problem solving skills to deal with the challenges, changes and choices the face daily. Families need to be willing to change. Children get older. Adults switch jobs or retire. Families are reshaped by birth, adoption, death and divorce. Families move to different communities. These are just a few common changes most families face. Family relationships are most likely to remain healthy and strong if the family adapts to these changes and makes the most of them.

Families who share leadership roles among parents and children who adapt relationships and family rules are most successful in coping with change. Allowing children to stay out later at night or giving them more household tasks as they grow older are examples of healthy adaptation. One spouse taking on extra housework when the other’s job is more demanding is another example.

Research has shown that families function best and individuals benefit most when decisions are shared among family members and each family member’s opinions are valued. Even children can participate in making decisions that affect them. For example, young children can choose between two kinds of juice at the grocery store; older children can help parents establish a bedtime routine.

Parents should take time to explain reasons for household rules, discipline and decisions to their children. Children whose parents explain decisions have a higher self-esteem and are more mature than children whose parents don’t explain their actions. Children whose parents discuss rules and discipline with them, and bring them into the decision making process, are less likely to be swayed by peer pressure to disobey family rules. These children are better at deciding right from wrong.

For more information about parenting teens refer to the Michigan State University Extension Building Strong Adolescents program.

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