Families are as strong as the members who constitute them. Caring and nurturing strengthen families.
Frequent arguments, disrespect and irresponsibility weaken and disintegrate families.
Families are held together through tradition, culture, spirituality, educational, social and other practices. These factors are present in all families irrespective of race, religion, culture, ethnicity or other differences.
The following factors make a family strong and successful. (DW Matthews-parent-child communication):
Learning: We learn values, skills, and behaviour from our families. Children follow the pattern of routine and living that they are taught. Examples are selection of TV programmes, home-work and study times, meal times, sharing of chores, involvement in the neighbourhood and community.
Loyalty: Strong families stand by each other especially in times of need and trouble. A strong family does not desert its member in times of sickness, financial ruin or other failures. Members support, share, and give.
Love: All of us have the need to be loved and to love. It is in the family that love is expressed through caring, sharing, belonging, honesty, understanding, patience, tolerance and forgiveness. When a child reaches marriageable age, he or she leaves with these valuable qualities to start a new equally strong family.
Laughter: Laughter eases tensions, forms closer bonds, and is fun. We should not always focus on the serious side of life. Laugh together and not at each other.
Adults must show strong leadership in families. Children should be shown the need for rules and guidelines. Allowing children to voice their opinion and to share in decision- making, ensures that they become committed and responsible.
Research has shown that the following characteristics are present in strong families:
Commitment: Members of strong families realise that family comes first and that common goals must be shared. They must be concerned about the well-being and happiness of each member and not just their own.
Appreciation: A basic and important human need is appreciation. Members are motivated to work longer and harder when their efforts are appreciated. Appreciation raises one’s self-esteem.
Communication: Effective communication is vital for happiness and peace in the family. Talking helps us understand what another member is thinking or worried about.
Time Together: Spending quality time together helps with bonding and relaxes everybody. Family activities such as braais, picnics, sports, and parties bring us closer together.
Spiritual wellness: Spirituality in the form of worship, ceremonies, prayers, and rituals holds the family together. Spirituality inculcates faith and belief in children.
Coping ability: Families experiencing challenges learn to cope. Past crises help us to be proactive and equip us to cope in the future.
The greatest gift we can give our children is not fame or fortune, but love and all the qualities that it encompasses.