Marriage and Family Strengths and Needs Recurring Themes Marital and Family Strengths Different Families, Different Strengths Kin and Community Strengthening Families Through Family Policy Recurring Themes • A. Families are dynamic; they will always continue to change and there will always be families. • B. Families are diverse; they form a composite of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and lifestyle variations. • 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 marital satisfaction. • 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. Family Strengths • 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 with crises. • 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 and adaptability. • 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 interest. • H. Affirmation, respect, and trust are essential to family health. • 1. Supporting others in our family and being supported and affirmed in return are important in maintaining a feeling of satisfaction and wellbeing. • 2. According respect to our family members for their uniqueness and differences and encouraging members to develop their individuality is also important. • 3. Criticism, ridicule, and rejection will undermine self-esteem. • 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 communication. • 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 human beings. • 5. Communication facilitates other family strengths. • 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 responsible behavior. • b. Parental acknowledgment of a job well done goes a long way toward building responsibility in children. • 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 roots. • 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 crisis. • 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 itself. • 1. Strong families acknowledge their vulnerabilities. • 2. Strong families' experiences of interdependence within the family better equip them to recognize the interdependence among families and community. • N. Making time for family is an interlocking trait that brings together other characteristics found in strong families: It expresses commitment to the family. • 1. Spending time together is necessary to develop adequate communication and to build cohesion. • 2. Healthy families give play and leisure time high priority. • 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 social dimensions. • 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 processes. Different Families, Different Strengths • A. recognition of the commonality • B. Ethnicity is a complicated and ever changing phenomenon. • 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 achieve. • D. Latino families often live in nuclear families near other families in the extended family network. • 1. Latino culture emphasizes the family as a basic source of emotional support, especially for children. • 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 support system • 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 support. • 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 revolve. • 3. A special role for the elderly has historically been recognized as a strength in Native American families. • 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 relationship needs. • 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 vulnerable. • 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- esteem. • 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 emotional support. • 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 embedded. • 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.
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