The family is the cornerstone of our society.  It is the place where children are nurtured and taught the skills that will guide them for a lifetime as happy and productive adults.  When the family fails in its duties, individuals can be scarred for life.  Research shows a powerful link between young boys who get in trouble with the law and the lack of  coherence of his family of origin.  No doubt that the same goes for girls too.  [Click here for descriptions of other issues families may experience.]

            Of course, the relationship between the parents of children in the family is a fundamental issue.  Where there is bickering, fighting and constant tension between father and mother, emotional issues of children are neglected.  Children feel abandoned.  Left to their own devices, they often turn to an outside-the-family group or gang from whom they learn the life values that guide the rest of their lives.  Addressing problems in the family often includes couples therapy.

            But whether the family consists of a husband and wife and children or consists of a single parent with children, or a family with one parent and a step parent or a blended family with grandparents or other family members, the family has to be seen as a system in which each person in the family has specific roles and responsibilities.

            Success in developing a healthy family begins when all members of the family, young and old, are willing to step up to plate and perform their duties as full members.  Parents and older adults shoulder burdens of setting boundaries and clear expectations for each member of the family.  Children in the family learn shared responsibility and achievement and grow in self-esteem as they see the importance of their contribution to the family.

             Family therapy always begins with the parent or parents.  The burden of responsibility lies heavy on parents who may also be wrestling with staying employed, paying the bills and keeping children sheltered, fed and cared for.  Many times, parents have learned ineffective parenting skills and must learn how to set boundaries, how to discipline and give rewards to children when they keep their agreements, and how to see the behavior of children and teens as learned coping mechanisms which may be ineffective but are not meant to be destructive..

            But all members of the family must be brought together to commit to the task of building a healthy, happy family.  All can share in developing rules of the house and calling each other when they stray from their mutual agreements.  All must agree to sharing the work of the household as well as their own individual jobs which includes chores for all individuals and homework for children and teenagers.

            Parenting a family is a difficult task.  But there is none more important or more rewarding.

Issues Facing Families     Marriage and Couples Therapy    Children and Adolescents