Researchers have found that strong families share six major qualities. Understanding what it takes to become a strong family is the first step toward becoming one. Nurturing these characteristics within one's family is the work of a lifetime.
Commitment is the foundation characteristic on which the others are built. Commitment means that the family comes first. Commitment is steady and unwavering in strong families. These families live in the same world as everyone else; they have difficulties, hard times, quarrels and troubles. But, bad times don't destroy them. They work together to correct problems. They take an "until death do us part" attitude.
Strong families let each member know on a daily basis that they are appreciated. It is vital that appreciation be communicated. In expressing appreciation we, in essence, verbally express the worth of a person, dignity, interest and positive qualities. When we are appreciated by others, our self-worth is enhanced.
Communication helps us relate to and feel connected to others. Good communication involves two things: talking and listening. Through active listening, members show that they respect and care about the speaker. Because members feel free to exchange ideas and information, strong families are more effective problem solvers.
Families learn to communicate by spending time together. Although many of their conversations are spontaneous, some families plan special family council meetings.
Others designate a meal time each day for the entire family to be together to talk.
Strong families spend lots of time together. Investigators have found that many modern criminals share several characteristics: isolation, loneliness and a feeling of being separated from the rest of the world. Family time provides a solution to these feelings. It eases loneliness and isolation, nurtures relationships, and helps to create a family identity. Strong families understand that time together strengthens their communication.
Strong families believe in a greater power that can transform lives, can give strength to survive the difficult times, and can provide hope and purpose. Having spiritual beliefs is one of the secrets to the success of strong families. Strong families describe the spiritual dimension in various ways: faith in God, faith in humanity, ethical behavior, unity with all living things, concern for others, or religion. Spiritual wellness is a unifying force, a caring center within each person that promotes sharing, love, and compassion for others. It is a force that helps a person transcend self and become part of something larger.
Coping ability. Some families fall apart when faced with terminal illness, death, or other crisis situations. Others pull together and draw strength from each other when challenges come along. Their ability to see something good in a crisis or bad situation helps them to maintain a more balanced perspective; it prevents them from becoming so depressed and despondent that they cannot function. In other words, the ability to see something positive in a bad situation gives them hope.
Strong families are not born, they are developed through conscious effort and togetherness.