Many times it is easy to point out the problems or dysfunction in our own or someone else’s family. Even though it is easier to spot the problems we have, there has been a recent shift for families to focus on their family strengths. This may be easier said than done. Often times because families are focused on their problems, they may feel like they do not have any strengths. Even though they may be hard to point out, many strengths exist within families. Strengths may include things like spending time together, good communication, and flexibility. Strengths can also include tangible things such as having a car or being financially stable. In their research on family strengths, Stinnet and DeFrain developed the six common strengths found in families. These are:
• Appreciation and affection which includes caring for one another, friendship, respect for individuality, humor, and playfulness
• Commitment including elements of trust, honestly, dependability, faithfulness, and sharing
• Positive communication such as giving compliments, sharing feelings, avoiding blame, being able to compromise, and agreeing to disagree
• Enjoyable time together includes an abundance of quality time, enjoying each other’s company, and sharing fun times
• Spiritual well-being such as shared ethical values, compassion, hope, faith, and oneness with human kind
• Management of stress and crisis like adaptability, openness to change, seeing challenges as opportunities, growing through a crisis together, and resilience
Focusing on strengths can help families become empowered to solve problems, strengthen togetherness with members of the family, and create a strong family identity. As the holiday season is approaching, it is a great time to reflect on your family’s strengths. Think about what makes your family strong and stick together. The University of Nebraska has a great resource to help you get started. Know that every family is different and has different strengths, focus on your unique family and the strengths you possess.