These are six traits that make strong families.
It’s beneficial to look at positive examples regarding family dynamics. Instead of focusing on the “wrong” in a family, a more productive and lasting approach is to highlight its strengths.
Dennis Lynn is a human development and family sciences professor at Oregon State University-Cascades. According to Dennis, the Family Strengths Research Project offers valuable insight into the characteristics of healthy families.
“I often tell my students that most people want a strong, loving family. Dennis states that while this is a noble goal, it’s not very specific. “This research reminds me of six areas that we can immediately focus on, making it easier to be more aware and active in strengthening our families.”
The vision for the future is a clearly defined and communicated vision that guides the family’s actions. Such shared vision is particularly important in the current business environment, when ambiguity and complexity can be high and incremental improvements are rarely enough. It allows a business-owning family to set goals and determine priorities.
Families must have clarity on the level of their involvement and how much information-sharing will be necessary to ensure that everyone can carry out their responsibilities and be a positive force for the business.
They must also demonstrate cohesion and interaction: mutual understanding, respect and support, and a healthy exchange of ideas and discussion of key and delicate issues. This determines how resilient the family will be and how it will respond to change.
Good family governance means ensuring that decisions are made and authority exercised following established and accepted best practices to avoid conflict, commit to professionalism and attract and retain superior talent.
Finally, leadership principles and roles are clearly defined for all executives of a certain level, whether operating within or outside the company.
Dennis was part of his doctoral studies in Nebraska and participated in the research. The Family Strengths Inventory was used with thousands of families from more than 25 countries and revealed six common themes.
- Strong families show appreciation and affection. They communicate their love in positive, affirming words.
- Strong families are committed to each other. They are committed to each other’s happiness and welfare and invest their time and energy into family activities.
- Happy families spend time together. They love being together and realize that they can’t schedule and prioritize their time together. Sometimes love can be spelled ti-me.
- Strong families can manage stress and crises effectively. While they are not immune to difficult situations and days, they have strategies that allow them to pull together rather than fall apart.
- Strong families have a sense of spiritual well-being. No matter how they express their spiritual life, there are common themes of guiding values, ethics, and a commitment to important causes.
- Strong families have positive and effective communication. They communicate with each other, listen to one another and may have ground rules for communicating respectfully and lovingly.
Dennis states that although there are many more sophisticated and complex models for successful, healthy, and resilient family interactions, he returns to the simple, straightforward approach.
These six characteristics are useful for recognizing strengths and can be used as a starting point to develop new areas of strength.
Sometimes, we need a reminder to be strong and have strategies to help our families thrive. Every family member can start today by choosing one quality to improve and target.