What makes a family strong? What makes a family work well? What do strong families have in common?
In a 1995 article in Heart and Mind, Carla Dahl wrote some great thoughts related to this. There are no perfect families, but there seem to be some common characteristics of strong, thriving, and well connected families. The following are some modified quotes from Carla Dahl.
1) Strong Communication skills: Healthy families talk to one another clearly, directly and openly–especially about troublesome or hurtful issues and about values and guidelines for decisions members must make. Two integral components of good communication are our ability to be truthful about ourselves, and our ability to listen to one another without making premature assumptions.
2) Commitment to one another and to the family: In a healthy family, individuals are able and willing to balance personal preferences with family well-being, individual growth with family growth, independence with interdependence.
3) Ability to manage stress: Strong families are able to draw upon resources (faith, friends, time, information, money) at their disposal and articulate a shared, realistic perception of stresses. Through this shared process, stresses become meaningful and manageable.
4) Spiritual well-being: Many strong families take time to cultivate their values, identity, and beliefs, and to blend these core realities with their world.
5) Appreciation and affection: Strong families value and respect the unique contributions each member brings, and they are able to express that appropriately.
6) Time together: Time must be the arena in which the five other strengths are lived out. Healthy families use time to laugh, play, be spontaneous, and celebrate. This is quantity and quality.