Diane Sasser | 10/29/2005 12:12:59 AM
Keeping the family operating smoothly, particularly during these trying times following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, requires a lot of effort. Each of us, though, can contribute to keep the family strong.
LSU AgCenter family life professor Dr. Diane D. Sasser identifies the many factors in a strong, healthy family.
Marital relationships. The wife’s and husband’s ability to communicate and show love and affection for one another gives a positive role model for their children. Youngsters learn much of their behavior from the way their parents relate to one another.
Sharing family power. Family decisions and rules should be decided with the input of each family member. Each person should be allowed to express ideas, opinions and make suggestions. This power sharing leads to many positive results: feeling of trust and support, stronger family organization and more possibilities to arrive at better decisions.
Open communication. Communication affects all aspects of family relationships and what kinds of relationships can be formed. Conversation should be meaningful, clear and specific. Family members can openly express their emotions and know that the other person will listen and respond. They listen, signaling active interest in what others have to say.
Acceptance and appreciation. Every family has a variety of personalities, each person playing an important role. Being accepted by others helps develop self-esteem and makes the family member feel important, loved and appreciated.
Quality time. This family strength requires a lot of energy and work. Set aside time the family can spend together. For example, spend 30 minutes every week alone with each family member. Take a regular night out with your spouse, because time together as a couple is essential for the development of the family.
Plan family fun each week. At present, so many families are spending time together through necessity. Having fun together helps reduce the stress of being under one roof together 24-7. The fun helps dealing with our current circumstances caused by the hurricanes more tolerable and helps us on the road toward recovery.
Conflict management. How families deal with problems affect how the family unit functions. Family members should not give into conflict or feel intimidated. Every family member should feel like he or she can express opinions without being rejected or dismissed.
Family spirit. Healthy families should be proud to be associated with other family members. They should think of one another as friends with whom they can talk and have fun. Let the hard times be a reason to be closer.
For information on related family topics, click on LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-4448, or Dsasser@agcenter.lsu.edu