What Makes A Family Strong?

Here are ten traits that are essential to a strong, happy family.

Trait 1: Commitment

The most important trait in strong, happy families is commitment. Commitment to the team—putting the family first—and commitment to each individual on the family in helping him or her become everything he or she can.…With commitment comes the desire to help family members reach their potential. A winning attitude is "I’ll forgo my own immediate gratification to help a family member succeed, because I know the personal joy that I experience when I help another family member."

Trait 2: Appreciation

Do you let your family members know that they are appreciated? Do you give them positive attention?…Strong families focus on the strengths of each other—not the faults.

If you think your family needs improvement in this area, try serving a compliment at each practice…"I really like the way that you…" "One of the things I like best about you is…" "You make me happy when you…" "You have real talent when it comes to…" "You make me proud when you…"

Trait 3: Time Together

Healthy families enjoy being together. They work together, play together, and enjoy leisure times together. They may be very busy, but they…plan time together.

Trait 4: Communication

To understand each other, a family has to be willing to invest the time necessary to share their feelings and opinions. Because you are a product of your experiences, each day you are a new person. Without talking and listening to each other, family members can soon become strangers.

Trait 5: Religion

Praying together, as well as, praying for one another are extremely important for a strong, happy family. Worshiping together is a bonding experience.

Trait 6: Sense of Humor

Happy families have fun together; they play together; they laugh together. Having a sense of humor during tense, troublesome moments…defuses the tension and has an immediate calming effect.

Trait 7: Share Responsibility

Flexibility is an important trait in strong families, especially when it comes to sharing responsibility and roles. If family members will do whatever is necessary to meet each other's needs, even if the task does not happen to be on their list, everyone is happier.


Trait 8: Common Interests

The more that family members have in common, the more they tend to do together. Having similar interests and developing common goals gives the family something to look forward to, to plan toward, and to experience together.

Trait 9: Service to Others

Just as a pond grows stagnant if there is no outlet, so does the family. Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter…agreed that nothing (not even the White House experience) brought them as much joy and satisfaction as they received when pounding nails and painting walls in houses they were volunteering to build for others. Your own problems and worries can become insignificant when seen from the perspective of others who have so much less than you.

Trait 10: Seeking Help

Healthy families are not problem-free; they just admit to problems and get the help they need to solve them! The longer a problem drags on without a solution, the more discouraging family life becomes. Do not allow this to happen.

When you are a big enough person to admit you are not perfect and when you choose to get the help you need, not only will you gain the respect of your family, but you will find that your goal of living "happily ever after" is attainable after all.

adapted from
"What Makes a Family Strong"
by Kay Kuzma
Pulpit Helps,
September 1992


Why Parents Have a Hard Time Changing

Dr Kay Kuzma of Family Matters by Dr. Kay Kuzma, Founder and speaker of Family Matters a non-profit religious organization to promote wholesome family relationships and reduce alienation and abuse.

A Rat changes it's behavior when it ceases to get the desired outcome.

A rat runs through the maze...and gets the cheese. Rewarded, the rat repeats the run. This time it gets no cheese. Instead, it gets a shock. How long will the rat continue to run the maze the same way if it doesn’t get the cheese? Not long. Rats change their behavior when it ceases to get the desired outcome.

Then tell me, why is it that parents will go for years spanking and yelling at their children when these behaviors have long ceased to be effective! Or perhaps never were! If rats change when punished instead of rewarded, why not parents? Why do they continue in their dysfunctional patterns of discipline, rather than experiment with different and creative approaches that might be more effective in changing their child’s behavior?

After considerable thought, I offer the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1:
We discipline children as we were disciplined. Ingrained within us is the way our parents disciplined us. Our childhood memories become scripts that we follow in disciplining our own children. Parents seldom ask why their parents did what they did. They just blindly follow!
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the new bride making pot roast. When her husband saw her cutting off both ends of the roast before putting it in the pan and then putting it in the oven, he asked her why.

“Because,” she said, “it’s the way my mother made pot roast.” She then became curious why her mother did it this way, and asked her.

“Because,” she said, “it’s the way my mother did it!” Still curious about the reason, the young bride went to her grandmother and asked why she cut off the ends of the roast before putting it in the pan.

“ Because,” Grandma replied, “I had a tiny oven and small pan. The only way I could get it to fit was to cut off the ends.” For two generations, the ends of the roast were cut off even though it was totally unnecessary!

We need to encourage parents to continually ask, “Why am I doing this to my child? What is the most effective way to change my child’s behavior? Is the way my parents trained me, the very best way for me to use in training my own children?”

And if the answer is no, then cease that behavior and find new and meaningful ways to teach the child the way he should go.

Hypothesis 2:
We are creatures of habit. Habit allows people to put themselves on auto pilot and function without much, if any, thinking. It’s easy for
parents to get in the habit of treating children a certain way, screaming when angry or whipping them for misbehaving. Parents rationalize, “They deserved it!” The more parents repeat an action, the deeper the behavior rut. Habit takes over. They think they have handled the situation, when in reality, their habitual behavior had little to do with whether or not their children learn appropriate behavior. Being the recipient of what a parent thinks a child deserves, has little to do with wholesome discipline.

How can parents change their dysfunctional child rearing methods?

1. Each should write down all the different methods of discipline (or punishment) their parents used for certain types of behavior. Then ask themselves the following: In what ways do I use the same type of discipline for my children? Is it effective? Or is it dysfunctional? If it’s proved ineffective, parents should brainstorm other possibilities. For ideas, they might take a good parenting course, read a parenting book, or ask other parents what they do in similar situations.
2. They must be honest with themselves and ask: Am I doing this because it’s become a habit, or is this the very best way to teach my children important lessons in life.
3. Finally, when parents realize that it would be advantageous to change some of their dysfunctional parenting behavior, they must realize that only people who feel good about themselves who have a healthy self-concept are most likely to change. . Others may talk about changing, but they seldom do because change is scary. People who feel inferior and are nursing a low estimate of themselves find it easier to just keep doing what they’re doing. It may not be effective, but at least they know the outcome.

Change always produces a certain amount of stress. With positive feelings about self, change can be invigorating, even exhilarating! But with negative feelings about self, the stress of change can easily become distress! Why? Because it’s because of that, the outcome is unknown.

The bottom line is: If you want a parent to change, start building the person up with something positive that they’re doing. Encourage them to analyze their methods and make sure they are not just copying their parents or disciplining out of habit.

Marriage Club Valentine Night
February 15, 2014