Parenting Course

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Timely Essays on Good Parenting

[ CLOSE ]25 Signposts to Help Identify a Healthy Family

November 22, 2008
Barbara D. Tooker

©Barbara D. Tooker, 2005, rev. 2008

Much research has been committed to examining factors that identify families at risk – and we are better off for recognizing these factors.  The flip side is to identify factors that point to healthy families.  Abraham Maslow, Stephen Glenn, Stephen Covey, Leo Buscaglia, Dorothy Rich, Timothy Miller, Phil McGraw, and The Search Institute have lead the way in helping to identify strategies that build healthy families.

We use these vital signposts in our parenting classes as a way of discussing what a healthy family might look like.  In many cases, parents are surprised to discover missing elements from their own core families while growing up. Here, it’s good to use the Who/What/When/Where/How/Why questions for each item.  A rich portrait of memories and perceptions (correct or incorrect) about their past family life begins to form. Once missing pieces are identified, a plan can be developed to ensure that all aspects of a healthy family exist for themselves and their children.  These elements fit well into our parenting process, a curriculum that includes growth and development, communication, decision-making, self-esteem, and discipline.

1. Accepts, supports, and nurtures each other
2. Appreciates the environment, utilizes the earth’s resources wisely, and does not pollute
3. Avoids addictive substances, activities,  and/or behaviors
4. Communicates in a congruent, clear, understandable way and uses the language well, with all of its rich expressions and nuances
5. Creates an environment where winning and losing are taken in stride and attempts to learn from the situation
6. Develops curiosity and encourages lifelong learning
7. Embraces critical thinking
8. Embraces family history, culture, and traditions
9. Links choices to responsibilities and accepts consequences of own actions
10. Lives within a moral framework
11. Maintains a sense of humor
12. Nurtures spiritual explorations and development
13. Participates in community service projects as individuals and as a family
14. Plays together
15. Resolves conflicts and manages stress in healthy ways
16. Respects life of all living things, including plants and animals
17. Respects self, others, and other people’s property
18. Seeks to understand each other and the world in which they live
19. Supports each other’s short-term and long-term goals in positive ways
20. Understands and respects boundaries, structure, rules, and authority
21. Understands civic responsibilities and participates in civic processes
22. Understands sense of purpose as a family as well as for each individual
23. Understands the important differences between dependence, independence, co-dependence, and interdependence
24. Utilizes time wisely and is committed to spending time together
25. Works toward integrating physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual wellness