Building strong, healthy families requires commitment
Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist
How do you define “family”?
The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences uses this definition:
“A family is defined as two or more persons who share resources, share
responsibility for decisions, share values and goals, and have a commitment to
one another over time.”
Families come in many forms, shapes and sizes, but all can be made stronger with a little effort.
Strong families and support systems are an integral part of developing character and competence in our children. We know that families play a major role in children’s school success and ultimately help to determine if they become adults who can successfully contribute to society. Families are the first and primary influence on development.
There are many ways to keep families strong in the midst of stress and troubles we all face daily. Research has found that strong families share a number of common traits, such as adaptability, time together, encouragement, commitment, communication, coping with change, spirituality, community and family ties, and clear roles.
All families can be strong. A family’s strength is not dependent on who makes up the family, but on how well members work together to accomplish tasks, teach children what is expected of them, and develop shared values and goals.
Take a minute to think about your family. What strengths can you think of right away? Are there others you know you would like to develop?
Strong families don’t just happen—all family members must work together to strengthen their own family. The examples we set for our children will help them grow into responsible adults. This will, in turn, help them understand their role in building their own strong families.
The MU Extension Guidesheet # GH6640, Promoting Family Strengths (available online at http://extension.missouri.edu/explorepdf/hesguide/humanrel/GH6640.pdf), suggests several ways to strengthen families:
Respond to children with patience, and respect their feelings and abilities.
Encourage family members by asking them to share their accomplishments.
Visit and find ways to help at your child’s school.
Eat a meal together as a family at least once a day and involve family members in mealtime tasks.
Hold family meetings that give all family members an opportunity to talk openly.
Develop a family mission statement that includes your family’s purpose, goals and objectives.
Develop and maintain family traditions and rituals.
Finding time to complete
some of these strategies may be a challenge, but it is important to remember
that strengthening family relationships requires the commitment and cooperation
of all family members.
As a result, families will more than likely build closer and stronger family relationships that will help them meet the challenges of daily life. Hopefully, they also will have fun while creating great memories!
Source: Adapted from Building Strong Families curriculum, developed by University of Missouri Extension.