In a healthy family system, family members openly acknowledge their problems, discuss them openly, and work toward change.
They believe change is acceptable, and actively solicit workable solutions from other family members.
Children in these families are free to express their needs and wants.
Family members can talk about feelings and traits in themselves that they feel should be changed: shame and embarrassment do not immobilize them.
There is permission to express appropriate anger.
The adults of the family model healthy, congruent behavior for their children: what they tell their children to do and what they themselves do, match.
Families function to provide the following needs for their members:
- Maintenance, the provision of food, clothes, shelter, and health care
- Nurturance, the granting of safety, security, warmth, and a sense of “home
- Inclusion, the fulfilling of love and belongingness needs
- Privacy, respect for each member’s autonomy and separateness
- Esteem, the bestowing of a sense of worth and personal value on its members
- Understanding, the agreed upon right of members to make mistakes and learn from them
- Recreation, the opportunity to have fun together
- Spirituality, the permission to develop a relationship with a Higher Power, to have meaning and purpose in life.
Multiple Roles and Role Models
In a healthy family, members are not cast into rigid roles. Instead of pressing each member to embody a role to fulfill only one family function, each member is giving the opportunity to experience each of the family roles.
As a result,
- they incorporate positive adult and parental modes of functioning,
- they are able to maintain themselves and their own families,
- they are able to give and receive nurturing,
- they are able to establish a network of intimate and friendship relationships in which they can experience love and belongingness,
- they have the capacity to function autonomously and to take initiative,
- they have self respect and can respect the values and boundaries of others,
- they can accept their own mistakes and learn from them,
- they have the capacity to laugh and have fun,
- they have a relationship with their Higher Power, a source of inner meaning, strength, and hope.