Is your family strong?

How do you know if your family is strong? Learn about an inventory families can use to identify, discuss and record the qualities that make them strong. Also, discover what research says about the six qualities of a thriving family.

Would you describe your family unit as strong?  Sturdy? Powerful?  How do you know?  Is your family weak, delicate or vulnerable?   Again, how do you know?  It’s easy to identify the difficulties in your family unit and, according to Michigan State University Extension, there is plenty of research that has been conducted on why families encounter certain challenges.  How do you know you are part of a strong family?  There is also ample research that is strength-based on families.  Strengths-based research provides perspectives on what families are doing to build healthy, strong families.

Researchers John DeFrain, Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nick Stinnett, Ph.D. from the University of Alabama, created an inventory that families can use to help the identify, discuss and record the qualities that make them strong.  The Creating a Strong Family: American Family Strengths Inventory (A Teaching Tool for Generating Discussion on the Qualities that Make a Family Strong) asks families to inventory their family, discuss the strengths found, celebrate the strengths, identify strengths that could use improvement and create a plan to build on those family strengths.  Because the inventory is strengths-based, it will not tell a family what they are doing “right” or “wrong,” but rather it will help a family to see where they are already strong and where they have the potential for growth.

Dr. Stinnett and his colleagues have conducted research on families since the early 1970’s.  From his research, he found that families that thrive share six qualities.  In a book, The Hour that Matters Most by Parrott, Allen and Kuna, they identify that through Dr. Stinnett’s research the following six qualities are the “secrets” of creating the safest place on earth:

  1. Commitment: Members of strong families are dedicated to promoting one another’s welfare and happiness.  They prize their family and value the relationships.
  2. Appreciation and affection: Members of strong families are thankful for each other.  They don’t take their special relationships with one another for granted.
  3. Positive communication: Members of strong families spend a lot of time talking freely with one another, doing their best to be understood and to understand.
  4. Time together: Members of strong families spend generous amounts of time with one another--quality time--creating memories and building bonds.
  5. Spiritual well-being:  Strong families, whether they attend formal religious services or not, have a sense of greater good that gives them strength and purpose as a unit.
  6. The ability to cope with stress and crisis: Members of strong families are not fragmented by tension and trouble. They use those experiences to learn and grow together.

Maureen Burson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote an article on Creating a Strong Family where more information can be found about the six qualities of a strong family.

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