Qualities of a Healthy Family
Many families experience some dysfunction, according to psychiatrist Gary Malone, a distinguished fellow in the American Psychiatric Association and coauthor with his sister, Susan Mary Malone, of What’s Wrong With My Family? And How to Live Your Best Life Anyway.
“Once we recognize the childhood baggage we’ve carried into adulthood, we can take steps to compensate, make corrections and change how we raise our own children,” he says. Malone reports that a healthy family contains the following characteristics:
• Shows love: Family is usually the one source in life that provides a person with unconditional love. If you did not receive that as a child, you’ll likely have difficulty loving and valuing yourself.
• Respects autonomy: Individuals in the family are encouraged to develop their own personal identity and separate from the family while maintaining a role within it. The family supports and even cheers on individuals in their personal quests.
• Creates structure and boundaries: Parents are the keepers of the rules; they provide structure for children, both to protect them and to foster learning and growth. People who grow up with little or no structure may fail to offer structure to their own children — or overreact and be too rigid.