Six Ways to Strengthen Families
A lot of parenting advice focuses on what you can’t or shouldn’t do. These six points do just the opposite, instead building on the strengths you already have. The approach benefits all families, no matter their makeup or their situation, and best of all, they can be implemented through small but significant changes in everyday actions. Research and experience support each one of these points, and they are the basis for much of the Family Futures programming. Following them will lead to a healthier, stronger family and bright futures for all children.
- Be strong and flexible. Life has a lot of stresses, and occasionally, adversity hits. When parents are strong and able to bounce back, their family will be able to better deal with the stresses. Program staff can help parents with the encouragement, examples and resources they need to be resilient.
- Parents need friends. You just can’t go it alone. With trusted friends at your side, you have a support system to meet your practical and emotional needs. You can brainstorm about problems together, give and receive back-up child care and help meet unexpected needs like transportation.
- Being a great parent is part natural and part learned. You love your child and want what’s best for them. Some things you already know just from your natural instincts as a parent. But some of it needs to come from your education as a parent. Learning about parenting and child development gives you realistic expectations for your child and teaches you how to deal with challenging behavior.
- We all need help sometimes. If you know where to go when you need help, your family is more likely to stay strong and healthy. Whether its a sudden crisis like loss of employment or an ongoing issue like depression, being able to ask for and receive help is important. Your child’s well-being depends on it.
- Parents need to help their children communicate. Parenting can be difficult, especially when children are acting out. But when children can communicate their feelings appropriately and interact positively with their families and with other adults and children, parenting becomes less stressful.
- Give your children the love and respect they need. As a parent, you are the chief provider, protector and teacher for your child. When there is a healthy relationship, parents are “in tune” with their children: you can listen to them, understand them and perceive their needs. Showing love, meeting your child’s needs and providing a solid foundation for life means your child can trust, learn, grow and explore the world.
Adapted from: Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families Illinois, Protective Factors Framework