Although each family is unique, the presence or absence of specific characteristics can determine the health of a family unit:
1. Communication in healthy families is open and direct. Family members talk to each other rather than about each other. In addition, parents do not hold “family secrets” in a healthy family.
2. Healthy families deal with problems directly and openly. The entire family is involved in the search for answers to problems that arise. What affects one affects the whole.
3. In healthy families, feelings are acknowledged rather than ignored. Pain is shared openly and without judgment. Joys are celebrated. When members fight, they are able to make amends afterwards.
4. In a healthy family, the emotional needs of family members can be met cross-generationally. For example, a four-year-old can comfort his discouraged father and vice versa.
5. In healthy families, physical contact is frequent, spontaneous, tender, and non self-conscious. It is not dictated by gender identity (i.e. men and boys hug just as often and freely as women and girls). Physical affection is not limited to arrivals and departures.
6. Individualization and autonomy are encouraged and celebrated in healthy families. There is respect for each member’s privacy and quiet time and there is a high tolerance for differences in opinion, tastes, values, and behavior.
7. Healthy families engage in family traditions, rituals, and legends, which promotes a strong sense of togetherness.
8. The healthy family has a good sense of humor and the capacity to be playful. Members enjoy living together and spending time with each other without having to be serious.
9. Healthy families are open to others. Teenagers can invite their friends over without stress. Neighbors welcome. Being with and reaching out to others is easy because their basic attitude toward others is one of trust, caring, and friendliness.
10. There is a sharing of household responsibilities in healthy families. Even young children share in age-appropriate chores and parents take regular vacations without children.
Developing healthy family habits can be challenging with the distractions of work, school, and community responsibilities. If your family unit is unhealthy, out of balance, or physically/mentally abusive, counseling can help. Call or email to schedule an individual or family therapy session today.