Identifying Your Family’s Strengths

These are stressful times for most families. Today’s families face abundant emotional and economic challenges. While families are meant to be havens of peace and safety, they can often be cottages of conflict where members are simply worn out and angry. In the midst of these challenges that are a part of normal family living, we may wonder, What can I do to keep my family strong and healthy in the midst of the growing challenges to family life that are all about us?

Strengthening Families, Part 1 and Part 2 helped provide real answers to real questions like these, to strengthen relationships in the home and promote the well-being of each family member. These support materials will give you ideas for strengthening your family in the areas discussed in the programs.

How Important is the Family?

The importance of family life cannot be overstated. Scholars and religious leaders agree that the family has the first and foremost influence upon individuals and society. Most problems facing individuals and society either begin or end in the home. If we properly value and manage our families, many of these problems occur much less frequently or are gotten over much quicker. Therefore, it is critical that we strengthen our family.

What Makes a Strong Family?

Many things work together to make a family strong. Researchers have identified the following nine strengths: love and appreciation, time together, encouragement, commitment, communication, adaptability, faith, connections, and clear responsibilities. These strengths suggest important guidelines for any family to follow in creating the kind of family life they want.

It’s important to realize that no family has all of these strengths in perfection; and these strengths don’t represent a mold into which you must pour your family to be a strong family. Instead these strengths are guideposts for you to consider as you form your own healthy, unique family. These strengths have been found in all types of families, regardless of their type, shape, and size.

Assessing Family Strengths

Stephen F. Duncan, a family life professor at Brigham Young University recommends that families follow four steps for assessing and building their strengths: The first step is to identify the level of these strengths in your own family. Identify how each of you sees the family. You don’t have to agree. Talk about the differences you see. Take note of what strength areas you believe are strong or very strong. These are your family strengths. Also see which areas you believe you need to improve.

Next is to plan. Choose one area of strength to continue working on and one area of improvement. Don’t try and work on many areas-you can get overwhelmed. Besides, effort in one area usually automatically improves the others. For example, a father who desires to be more committed to his children will likely spend more time with them. Choose an activity to do to build the strength in each of the two areas.

Next, is to carry out the plan-just do it!

Finally, evaluate. After you’ve been working at it for a while, have a family council to see how things are going. Then start the cycle all over again.

Discovering Your Family Strengths and Goal Setting Activity

All families have strengths. What are yours? Complete the “Discovering Our Family Strengths” chart to identify your own family’s strengths and areas you’d like to grow stronger. Each family member eight years of age and older should complete the chart. This way you can get a better picture of how each family member views the family.

After you have completed the chart, notice where your family agrees on strengths. These are your family strengths. Also notice where family members rate strengths differently. Talk about what these differences mean.

Next, go to the Goal Setting Worksheet. Choose activities that continue to build at least one of your areas of strength. In addition, choose one or two areas that the family agrees need improvement. List the activities you will do and when. See the links for each strength area for ideas.

Discovering Our Family Strengths Chart

Strength Area

Very Strong

Some Growth Needed

Much Growth Needed

Love and Appreciation

 

 

 

Time Together

 

 

 

Encouragement

 

 

 

Commitment

 

 

 

Communication

 

 

 

Adaptability

 

 

 

Faith

 

 

 

Connections

 

 

 

Clear Responsibilities

 

 

 

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Goal Setting Worksheet

Strength Area

Our Goals

Activities We Will Do

When

Love and Appreciation

 

 

 

Time Together

 

 

 

Encouragement

 

 

 

Commitment

 

 

 

Communication

 

 

 

Adaptability

 

 

 

Faith

 

 

 

Connections

 

 

 

Clear Responsibilities

 

 

 

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For lots of ideas for strengthening your family in these nine areas, see the other articles that appear at this website under Strengthening Families.

For Further Reading:

Fantastic Families: 6 Proven Steps to Building a Strong Family
by Nick and Nancy Stinnett, Joe and Alice Beam

The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties
by William J. Doherty

Additional Websites

Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Website – Arkansas Families
http://www.arfamilies.org/

Children, Youth, and Families Education and Research Network (CYFERnet) at www.cyfernet.org includes has practical, research-based information from the nation’s leading universities. Includes hundreds of articles on early childhood, school-age children, teens, parent and family, as well as community.