Family Life

Do you ever wonder whether anybody still values the traditional family unit in this day and age? Current social, economic and technological changes are making it difficult for traditional families to grow. Expectations, lifestyle and value systems are also changing.

Adventists believe the family is one of the most important foundational units of society and want to support it. Contact us for more information or to enquire about family seminars.

What makes healthy families?
Symptoms of a stressed famiy
Guide to a better family
Top ten family stresses

What Makes Healthy Families?

Some time ago, 13 of the world's leading family researchers met in Washington, DC, USA, to focus on what they had learnt from their research into healthy families.

According to Family Therapy News (July-August 1990), the researchers agreed that there were nine characteristics or strengths of happy, healthy families:

  1. Adaptability

    These families are able to adapt to predictable life-cycle changes as well as to stressful events. They deal with life's inevitable crises by taking a stressful situation and focusing on positive solutions.

  2. Commitment

    Successful families have a high degree of commitment to each other. They promote each other's happiness and welfare. They invest time and energy in one another and make "family" their number one priority. They develop similar interests and common goals that give the family something to work toward and achieve together.

  3. Communication

    These families spend time talking with one another. They are good listeners. They use clear, open, honest patterns of communication and clear up any misunderstandings.

  4. Individuality

    They have the ability to encourage a sense of belonging and connectedness while at the same time fostering individual development.

  5. Appreciation

    Appreciation is clearly and regularly expressed by family members as they delight in making each other feel affirmed and valued.

  6. Spiritual Health

    Healthy families have a high degree of religious orientation and practice. They promote love, caring and compassion. While not all belong to an organised church, they share religious faith and have similar values and standards.

  7. Social Connectedness

    These families are involved in and connected to the wider community of extended families, friends, and neighbours. They aren't isolated, but participate in community activities that provide resources to assist them as they adapt and cope with stress and change.

  8. Clear Roles

    Family members are flexible in their roles and share responsibilities by doing whatever is necessary to meet each other's needs. Gender issues aren't a problem in these families.

  9. Shared Time Together

    In all areas of their lives, healthy families structure their schedules to spend time together. They work, play and worship together, have a sense of humour and experience fun together. They enjoy both quality and quantity time.

Written by Bryan Craig, Director of Family Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division

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Symptoms of a stressed family     
  1. A constant sense of urgency and hurry - no time to release and relax tension that underlies and causes sharp words, sibling fighting, misunderstandings;

  2. A mania to escape - to one's room, car, away, anywhere;

  3. Feelings of frustration over not getting things done;

  4. A feeling that time is passing too quickly - children are growing up too fast;

  5. A nagging desire for a simpler life - constant talk about times that were or will be simpler;

  6. Little "me" and/or couple time;

  7. A pervasive sense of guilt for not being and doing everything to and for all the people in one's life.

(By Delores Curran, Stress and the Healthy Family)

Guide to a Better Family

Written by Bryan Craig, Director of Family Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

We all have weeks when the wheels seem to fall off - times when even the strongest families feel the pressure and sense they're being pushed to the edge of their existence.

Today's families are stressed more than ever before. We live life in the fast lane and the hectic pace leaves us with less and less time for relaxation and refreshment. With little time to spend with the people we care about - our families - our relationships become tenuous and fragile. Somehow the constant desire to get away from it all and escape to some quiet place seems increasingly attractive.

Some stress is healthy, but too much can affect the healthy functioning of families and individuals.

Research shows that families under stress tend to be more dissatisfied with the quality of their lives and with each other. Unstressed families tend to be satisfied and to know how to manage or reduce their stress.

A number of key factors can help you enjoy such health and happiness -

  1. Identify Anxiety Sources


    Being able to recognise and anticipate the kind of things that create stress for you and your family is very important. By knowing what gets you aggravated, you can actually avoid or reduce the escalation of tension and stress, stopping it before it actually starts.

  2. Communicate


    As stress and tension increases, communication decreases. When you feel under pressure, you tend to withdraw and stop listening to others. Blaming or responding with a negative tone of voice aggravates other family members. This only increases tension, so it's important to share your feelings and concerns in an open, positive way, expressing your support and affection for one another.

    Being rigid and inflexible, and demanding that you get your own way doesn't exactly make it easy for you to get along with your family members. By being a good listener you minimise the risk of misunderstanding.

  3. Recognise Others' Limits


    By understanding how much your family members can take before they "step over the edge" of their tolerance is an important factor. Working together on solutions and sharing responsibilities in the family can help to avoid tensions and problems occurring and keep stress to comfortable levels.

  4. Balance Work and Family


    One of the greatest stresses in family life is the over commitment we make to work and activities that take us away from the family. Being unable to say "no" to some things robs us of valuable time to relax and enjoy the company of the people who matter most in our lives. It's hard to be pleasant and energetic when you're stressed out trying to reach unrealistic expectations you've accepted for yourself.

  5. Spend Time Together


    Healthy family relationships depend on having time to be together, listening, sharing and affirming one another. When our need for love, laughter and affection is met, our stress levels tend to decrease as our sense of happiness, security and wholeness increases. Research indicates that one of the most successful ways to reduce tension and manage stress is through building a good couple relationship.

  6. Prioritise Activities


    Feelings of anxiety, turmoil and chaos often result from frantically trying to accomplish too many pressing assignments. Being clearly focused on realistic goals and screening unnecessary activity is essential in stress management. It also helps to maintain a balanced lifestyle that includes such things as good nutrition, adequate sleep and regular exercise. These contribute to your physical wellbeing and provide you with vital resources necessary to handling stress.

  7. Attend to Finances


    Nothing creates more stress than financial pressure. Financially overcommitted families or those who can't control their credit-card spending are prime candidates for stress. It isn't the lack of money that's available that creates the stress, but how it's viewed - and spent. It is critical that couples and families both discuss and agree upon how they will deal with their financial commitments.

  8. Maintain a Support Network


    It's important to have a group of friends who are there for you and your family. They're the kind of people you can turn to for encouragement in times of distress. Being able to process some of your concerns with people who understand and support you emotionally is a resources that everyone needs to help manage stress.
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Top ten family stresses
  1. Finances, budgeting
  2. Children's behaviour, discipline, sibling fighting
  3. Insufficient couple time
  4. Lack of shared responsibility in the family
  5. Communicating with children
  6. Insufficient "me" time
  7. Guilt for not accomplishing more
  8. Spousal relationship (communication, friendship, sex)
  9. Insufficient family playtime
  10. An overscheduled family calendar

(By Delores Curran, Stress and the Healthy Family)