Marriage and Family Strengths
Marital and Family Strengths
Different Families, Different Strengths
Kin and Community
Strengthening Families Through Family
• A. Families are dynamic; they will always
continue to change and there will always be
• B. Families are diverse; they form a composite of
race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and lifestyle
• C. Families satisfy important societal and personal
needs; societal health and stability depend in large
part on strong and stable families.
• D. Families need societal support; the family
needs greater societal and institutional support to
overcome problems and grasp opportunities.
Marital and Family Strengths
• A. Marriage may be seen as a forum for
negotiating the balancing between the desire for
intimacy and the need to maintain a separate
identity through interpersonal competence.
• B. Marital strengths versus family strengths:
• 1. Childfree couples generally have more time for
each other and substantially less psychological,
economic, and physical stress.
• 2. Many of our marital skills probably develop
alongside our family skills.
• 3. The relationships of families with children
generally have greater stability because the
emotional cost of a breakup is much greater when
children are present; in addition, children help
fulfill our need for intimacy.
• C. Essential aspects of successful marriage:
• 1. Numerous studies show a strong correlation
between a couple's communication patterns and
• 2. Commitment is a continual growing of a
relationship, involving the willingness and ability
to work together. Commitment to the sexual
relationship within marriage is a very important
aspect of marital strength.
• 3. Commitment involves give-and-take in order to
be together and nurture the marriage relationship.
• 4. Commitment to success is an essential
component in the formation of strong marriages
and strong families.
• A. Family strengths are those characteristics that
contribute to a family's satisfaction and its
perceived success as a family.
• B. Family goals are unique to each family.
• C. Perfection in families exists as an ideal: Family
quality can be seen as a continuum.
• D. Family quality varies over the family life cycle:
• 1. The overall cohesiveness of the family is
severely tested at times; although it often emerges
stronger, it may have experienced periods of
distrust, disorder and unhappiness.
• 2. Families are idiosyncratic; each is different
from all others.
• E. The Family Strengths Research Project found
that six qualities stood out repeatedly in successful
families including appreciation; spending time
together; commitment; good communication
patterns spiritual wellness; and ability to deal
• F. Ten areas of strength in successful families
include commitment; affirmation, respect, and
trust; communication; responsibility, morality,
and spiritual orientation; rituals and
traditions; crisis management; ability to seek
help; spending time together; a family wellness
orientation; and a balance between cohesion
• G. Commitment involves the promotion of growth
of other family members:
• 1. Commitment is a prevailing characteristic in
strong families of all forms.
• 2. Commitment to the family involves the
participation of family members in a worldview
that encompasses more than only self-centered
• H. Affirmation, respect, and trust are essential to
• 1. Supporting others in our family and being
supported and affirmed in return are important in
maintaining a feeling of satisfaction and
• 2. According respect to our family members for
their uniqueness and differences and encouraging
members to develop their individuality is also
• 3. Criticism, ridicule, and rejection will undermine
• 4. The establishment of trust that family members
can be relied on encourages the
• development of self-confidence and a sense of
responsibility for oneself and others.
• 5. Parental role modeling is a crucial factor in the
development of qualities that ensure personal
psychological health and growth.
• I. Our tones of voice, body language, eye contact,
silences, a touch, or a gift are all forms of
• 1. In strong families, communication is direct.
• 2. Strong families talk a lot, trust one another, and
are good listeners.
• 3. In times of conflict, strong families keep
communication focused on the issues rather than
the personalities of those involved.
• 4. Communication has been described as a huge
umbrella that covers all that transpires among
• 5. Communication facilitates other family
• J. Responsibility, morality, and spiritual
orientation are important for healthy families.
• 1. The acquisition of responsibility is rooted in a
sense of self-respect and an appreciation of the
interdependence of people.
• a. Successful families realize the importance of
delegating responsibility and of developing
• b. Parental acknowledgment of a job well done
goes a long way toward building responsibility in
• c. Healthy families know the importance of
allowing children to make their own mistakes and
face the consequences.
• 2. Healthy families develop a sense of right and
wrong, a moral code, in their children based on a
firm conviction that the world and people around
us must be valued and respected.
• 3. Families with a spiritual orientation see a larger
purpose for their family than simply their own
maintenance and self-satisfaction.
• 4. Spirituality gives meaning, purpose, and hope.
• a. By traditions and rituals, families find a link to
the past and a hope for the future.
• b. Strong families often have a sense of family
history, strengthening a sense of connection to its
• L. Research consistently identifies the capacity to
deal effectively with family crises as a
characteristic of strong families. Members of a
strong family unite to face the challenges of a
• 1. The cumulative effect of other family strengths
enables strong families to deal with crises.
• 2. Strong families are able to accept changes
resulting from crises and to see possibilities for
growth in them.
• M. Effective crisis management is associated with
the family's ability to be open to resources outside
• 1. Strong families acknowledge their
• 2. Strong families' experiences of interdependence
within the family better equip them to recognize
the interdependence among families and
• N. Making time for family is an interlocking trait
that brings together other characteristics found in
strong families: It expresses commitment to the
• 1. Spending time together is necessary to develop
adequate communication and to build cohesion.
• 2. Healthy families give play and leisure time high
• O. Having a family wellness orientation means
making a conscious decision to live our lives in
ways that move us toward optimal health in
physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and
• 1. Wellness is positive, proactive, and focuses on
being healthy and whole.
• 2. Families oriented toward wellness take
advantage of educational opportunities that help
them gain perspectives on family developmental
Different Families, Different Strengths
• A. recognition of the commonality
• B. Ethnicity is a complicated and ever changing
• C. Family strengths associated with African-
American families include: (1) an extended
kinship network; (2) flexibility of roles; (3)
resilient children; (4) egalitarian parental
relationships; and (5) strong motivation to
• D. Latino families often live in nuclear families
near other families in the extended family
• 1. Latino culture emphasizes the family as a basic
source of emotional support, especially for
• 2. In Puerto Rican families, the role of mother is
central and is expressed in the term marianismo.
• 3. Mexican-American families tend to emphasize
the needs of the family above those of the
individual: A child's padrinos (called compadres
by the parents) are an important part of the family
• 4. Family strengths associated with Latino
families include: being family centered; strong
ethnic identity; high family flexibility; a
supportive network of kin; egalitarian decision
making; and family cohesion.
• E. Responsibilities to aged parents and to close
relatives are fundamental to the family institution
of Asian-American families.
• 1. In Chinese-American families, the concept of
hsiao (filial piety) involves a series of obligations
of child to a parent.
• 2 . Strengths of Japanese-American families
include: (1) close family ties indicated by strong
feelings of loyalty to family; (2) low divorce rates;
and (3) a complex system of values and techniques
of social control.
• 3. Due to patterns of immigration and disruption
of family relations, Vietnamese-Americans have
developed variations in their traditional extended
family household and kin system.
• 4. Strengths of Asian-American families include:
filial piety; family as a cohesive unit; value of
education; feelings of loyalty; and extended family
• F. Native Americans are a diverse group.1. In
general, Native American families see human life
as being in harmony with nature.
• 2. Relations with kin are often characterized by
residential closeness, obligatory mutual aid, active
participation in life cycle events, and the presence
of central figures around which family ceremonies
• 3. A special role for the elderly has historically
been recognized as a strength in Native American
• 4. Strengths of Native American families include:
extended family network; value placed on
cooperation and groups, respect for the elderly;
tribal support system; and preservation of culture.
Kin and Community
• A. Whether we are married or single, we have
• 1. We need to nurture others by caring for a
partner, children, or other intimates both
physically and emotionally.
• 2. Social integration involves being actively
involved in some form of community, through
knowing others who share our interests and
participating in community or school projects.
• 3. The knowledge that assistance from others is
available keeps us from feeling anxious and
• 4. We need intimacy with people who will listen
to us and care about us.
• 5. We need reassurance as to our skills as persons,
workers, parents, and partners to maintain self-
• B. Few aspects of family life exist to which
relatives do not make a significant contribution.
Even when extended families are separated
geographically, they continue to provide
• C. In addition to kinship networks, many families
have extensive networks of affiliated kin and
friendships. The strength of kinship ties depends
more on feeling than biology.
• 1. The wellbeing of the family depends not only
on its own resources, but also on the support it
receives from the community in which it is
• 2. Despite the complexities of modern life, the
families that love, shelter, and teach us remain
America's greatest national resource: They deserve
to be nurtured, strengthened, and protected.