Communities and nations are stronger when individual family units are strong. This statement makes sense, but its truthfulness can be better shown by comparing a community to a chain. The links in the chain represent family units, and the links welded together represent the community. Every weak family would be a weak link in the chain, but even one weak link would prevent the chain from working at its best.
In searching for something to write about strengthening families, I came across the web page of an organization titled Strengthening Families Program. The evidence-based program was developed in 1982 by Dr. Karol L. Kumpfer to help parents develop needed skills “to keep their kids from using alcohol and drugs.” It is recognized nationally and internationally and helps both general population families and high-risk families.
Participants reported a dozen differences in their families through the program. The differences basically fall into three groups. They increased family bonding, parental involvement, positive parenting skills, positive communication, and family organization. They decreased family conflict, youth depression, and youth aggression. They increased youth cooperation, number of prosocial friends, youth social competencies, and youth school grades. I was particularly drawn to a statement as to why strong families are essential.
The well-being of a nation depends on strong and loving families. They have the job of producing the next generation of emotionally healthy, responsible, educated citizens who are addiction-free and prepared to maintain the physical and social infrastructure of society. Research shows well-trained parents help youth avoid substance abuse and have better life outcomes:
“Strong families avoid many adverse outcomes: substance abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, aggression, and delinquency.” (Hops, et al., 2001)
Children are a nation’s most valuable asset. They deserve to grow up in a stable, loving family with nurturing caregivers who protect them from abuse, help them become their best selves, and stay addiction-free….
The statement continues by discussing how addiction harms families as well as the children’s brains. It also discusses the importance of adults protecting children and teenagers.
I know that there are numerous organizations that can help families, but the simplest, most basic one is an understanding of what it means to be a parent. We are individuals before we become a couple and have children. This means that we are responsible to take care of the individual needs first. We will have a more difficult time being good parents if we are physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually sick. Therefore, the first step is to take care of ourselves.
The second thing of importance is the relationship between the parents. A wise man once said that the most important thing that a father could do for his children is to love their mother. The same is true of the mother. If the relationship between the parents is good, then each of them will be more capable of developing healthy and strong relationships with each of their children.
Healthy relationships between parent and child is one of the greatest tools to keep children and teens from straying. I remember as a child and youth knowing that I could please my parents most by keeping the commandments of God. At that time of my life, I was more interested in pleasing my parents than pleasing God, and I stayed close to God’s teachings by doing the things that made my parents happy. I know that we can strengthen our communities and nations by strengthening families.