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Building a strong family
Posted: March 18, 2009
Last Updated: March 18, 2009

According to new research, families can make a huge difference in a person’s life. It may seem obvious to people, but research is just catching up with the human condition, especially that of the family, and its function in a person’s life. Strong family bonds that help children and adults fend off negative influences and succeed in the face of adversity is called ‘family resiliency.’


Resilient families aren’t one-size fits all models. They can be composed of very different types of families: traditional, nuclear, extended, single-parent, and even non-traditional families. Resilient families are of every race, culture and ethnicity. According to new research from the University of Michigan, all resilient families have nine common traits. These traits draw a family together and help the family cope with outside stressors that negatively could affect their lives. Children from families that exhibit resilient traits are more likely to succeed in life and less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors like criminal behavior, using drugs and/or alcohol, and engaging in early sexual activity.


Every family can do with a little reminder of what brings them together.  Here are a few ideas listed by the nine traits that resilient families have and some ideas to help bring your family together:


Time together is essential to building a strong and health family. In our hectic modern lives we sometimes forget to set aside time for family activities. Try setting aside one weekend a month to participate in a family activity. Flying kites together, going on a hike or simply sitting in the backyard together: all are positive ways to bring your family together.


Communication is key to having healthy relationships and the same is true for families. Try sitting down together as a family for a meal once a week with the television and phone off. It gives a chance to family members talk. Research has shown that children whose families share meals together are less likely to use drugs and/or alcohol. Family dinners have shown to make a great positive impact on children’s lives.


Clear roles help a family define itself and its members. Clear roles add stability to the family unit. In most dysfunctional families children can take on adult roles adding stress and uncertainty to their lives. Try talking with your family about the roles each of you plays in the other’s lives. You might be surprised with the responses you receive.


Caring and appreciating are something everyone needs. When was the last time you complimented your child on a job well done? Thanked your spouse for the little thing they did which made your life easier? Finding little things to appreciate about your family members can make them feel important and loved. 


Encouragement in a person’s life is important in helping set goals and reaching them. Offer a few words of encouragement when you family member has a difficult task coming up. Your belief in their abilities can help them overcome daunting tasks.


Cope with change is a trait the most successful families display. Change is inevitable, and how your family responds to it can set the tone for future endeavors. Try approaching changes in life with a positive outlook. It can help your family to look for the positive side of stressful changes in their lives. Even positive changes in life can be stressful for people. Going to college, starting a new job or moving to a new house can require the family’s support and encouragement.


Spirituality draws families together. According to research it doesn’t matter what your family’s religion is spirituality draws families closer together. Try sharing family members’ ideas about spirituality without being condemning or disbelieving. You might find your family is closer together on this issue than you think.


Community and family ties bind the family together and connect them to the larger society. Try volunteering together at a community project for one hour a month. Attend local events like educational lectures from the Audubon Society or talks at the local college. Help each other with projects or hobbies. It gives the family common ground and involves them in the community.


Commitment is final trait of successful families. Each member should be committed to the other family members. Try setting aside family time each day or letting kids pick family day activities. People whom know their opinion and their ideas are listened to have better self-esteem.


It’s important to keep nurturing your family so it grows healthier and stronger as the years go by.


If you’d like to know how to build a more resilient family call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.


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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.