UNIVERSAL FAMILY STRENGTHS

The family, consisting of blood and kinship ties, is arguably the most fundamental institution in societies around the globe.  Though family structures have changed over time, the value it provides its members and society remains.  Researchers agree that these groupings continue to offer a sense of physical, emotional, and collective support [1]. The family strengths perspective identifies family characteristics, behaviors, and thought patterns that make it possible for a family to successfully overcome obstacles and be resilient.  Even though families face varying struggles, how they prepare for and overcome them, as well as, sustain healthy relationships are relatively consistent cross-culturally.

By taking a strengths-approach to families, researchers have identified universal domains for strong families around the world and two additional emerging traits, which include Leadership and qualities associated with the arts.

Commitment

It is important that family members value each other and are committed to their whole family’s wellbeing.

Qualities include:

  • Trust

  • Honesty

  • Dependability

  • Faithfulness

  • Sharing

Time Together

It is important that family members have adequate time for each other, and they enjoy the time that they share together.

Qualities include:

  • Quality time in great quantity

  • Good things take time

  • Enjoying each other's company

  • Simple good times

  • Sharing fun times

Appreciation & Affection

It is important that family members have appreciation and affection for each other, and let each other know this.

Qualities include:

  • Caring for each other

  • Friendship

  • Respect for individuality

  • Playfulness

  • Humor

Ability to Manage Stress & Crisis

It is important that family members support one another and work together to solve very difficult family problems, while looking at obstacles as opportunities for growth.

Qualities include:

  • Adaptability

  • Seeing crises as challenges and opportunities

  • Growing through crises together

  • Openness to change

  • Resilience

Positive Communication

It is important that family members listen to and share their feelings with one another in a respectful way.

Qualities include:

  • Sharing feelings

  • Giving compliments

  • Avoiding blame

  • Being able to compromise

  • Agreeing to disagree

Spiritual Wellbeing

It is important that family members have a hopeful attitude toward life.

Qualities include:

  • Hope

  • Faith

  • Compassion

  • Shared ethical values

  • Oneness with humankind

  • Connection to ancestors or nature

Leadership

It is important that family members support each other's independence by teaching them to think for themselves.

Qualities include:

  • Problem-solving

  • Supporting independence

  • Giving direction

  • Servant-hood

  • Goal-oriented

1. DeFrain, J. & Asay, S. M. (2007). Strong families around the world, Marriage and Family Review, 41(1/2), 1-10, DOI:10.1300/J002v41n01_01

2. Clark, G. C. (2017). Spirituality among Black Americans: A hierarchical classification of the family strengths model (master’s thesis). University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

Information on Advocate Lab's site was developed with oversight from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, College of Education and Human Sciences (CYAF/IFS).

 

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