Creating a strong, supportive family
*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
One key to an emotionally healthy life is having the backing of a strong, supportive family. A strong family may be as small as two people, or as large as a kinship network of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The size of the family, indeed the composition of the family, does not matter as much as the feeling of belonging and the sense of sustenance that emerges from living with stable, familial support. People seem to do better in life when they have the feeling of belonging to something larger, and stronger, than they are individually. A familial network diminishes the uncertainties that derive from the stresses of everyday living.
The family has undergone many changes over recent decades, due mainly to major, social and cultural upheavals. When life was mainly agriculturally based or when immigrants came to the new land, the traditional family was able to thrive. We looked to our kin for support, and they were there for us. The decades since the middle of the 20th century have seen a steady unraveling of this bygone ideal. It is difficult to describe precisely what caused this change. It may have been such factors as government programs (the government, rather than children, would take care of people when they grew old) or automobile and modern roads (people were no longer confined to one location any longer, family members can move away). Or was it television? Computers and electronic data transmission? Improved communication technology? The high divorce rates? What we do know is that families find it more difficult due to competing demands from the larger world, to spend time together, to feel committed to each other, to communicate with each other, to share spiritual values, to cope with crisis together. Some families, however, seem to have overcome these threats to a strong and thriving fam life.
Here are some qualities shared by strong families –
A sense of commitment to the family
A commitment is a pledge or promise applied to family life, it is a sense of responsibility or duty to the family that overrides temporary conflicts or times of crisis. Members of strong families take their familial commitment seriously. It is conscious, unwavering, and unconditional.
Showing appreciation and self-esteem
Healthy families share in common the ability to show appreciation to each other. By showing appreciation, we are essentially saying that the other person is worthy and has dignity. We declare that we can see the positive qualities of the other person. This message is crucial to emotional wellness because it is a core building block of self-esteem. Thus, strong families help build healthy personalities.
Sharing positive communication
One research study has shown that the average couple spent 17 minutes per week in conversation. In contrast, strong families spend a great deal of time talking with one another, ranging from trivial matters to important issues. Communication helps us to feel connected and because members of strong families feel free to exchange information and ideas, they become good problems solvers. Some families set aside time for family council meetings, and others do their talking over the dinner table each night.