Experts in the field of family science have found that in order to help families with problems, it's beneficial to study the common strengths all strong families have. So, they researched families across the globe and found that all successful families, no matter where they lived, have the six same qualities.
These strengths, scientists found, are the foundation for the families' continued growth and healthy change.
According to family science experts David H. Olson, John DeFrain and Linda Skogrand in Marriage and Families: Intimacy, Diversity, and Strengths, the most extensive study of families strengths was conducted by Nick Stinnett and John DeFrain involved 28,000 family members from 38 countries. After 35 years of research, these are the consistent six qualities they found all strong families share:
Family members in just about all families have feelings of appreciation and affection to some degree. The difference between families that just get along and families that excel is the expression of appreciation and affection. This encompasses simple acts, like saying "thank you" to each other often, giving hugs to each other and between spouses having healthy sexual relationships.
This quality has everything to do with priorities. Unsurprisingly, individuals in healthy families put their family at the top of their priority list. They are committed to each other and they invest time and energy into making their family the best it can be, whether that be through time together, teaching lessons, creating traditions and practicing fidelity between spouses.
It's no surprise that the quality of good communication makes the list. Ironically, most people know this as a "key to good family relationships," yet few people are actually open with their loved ones nor spend much time talking to each other.
Good family communication covers several bases: problem solving, listening, staying connected, humor, learning, opening up and even rambling conversations. Strong families don't have to agree all the time, and they will always have differences in opinions, but they do speak directly and honestly without blaming each other.
When the researchers interviewed 1,500 schoolchildren on what they thought made a happy family, most kids replied that happy families spend enjoyable time together. Think of all the happy family memories you have from childhood- all those moments no doubt strengthened and solidified your family's bond together. Everything from reading picture books before bedtime to summer vacations to Christmas morning are strengthening aspects for families; it's almost impossible for families to spend too much enjoyable time together, and healthy families share a lot of it.
Spiritual well-being in families can be related to religion, but it doesn't necessarily have to do with Church and God. This quality can take form in optimism about life, hope, morals, faith and a feeling of oneness among family members. Remember, this study was done around the world, which means the studied families had a wide range of spiritual beliefs and values. It didn't necessarily matter what specific faith or beliefs each family had, as long as they shared values together and members felt a sense of spiritual well-being. An important related aspect to this quality is the care, love and compassion it creates among family members.
All families experience stress, and few families are lucky enough to get through life without crisis. No one's immune to trouble, not even strong families, but strong families are the ones to approach such experiences with zest, positivity and efficiency. They look for opportunities to grow together in the middle of trying circumstances.
If you feel like your family might be lacking in one or some of these six qualities, no worries- strong families aren't perfect, but they have the strength to admit they need to improve in some areas, whereas troubled families do not admit they even have troubles. For all six of these qualities, all it really takes is starting out with small, simple things, and your family will be well on their way to growing stronger.