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Family Matters No. 53 - June 1999

Strong families around the world

John DeFrain

Abstract

Those who study families do so for many different reasons, but perhaps the most important reason is to learn how people can get along better with one another in an intimate environment. If researchers study only family problems, they are likely to find only family problems. Similarly, if educators, community organisers, therapists and researchers are interested in family strengths, they look for them. When these strengths are identified, they can become the foundation for continued growth and positive change in a family and a society. The author briefly describes research projects on strong families at the University of Newcastle, Family Action Centre and Department of Social Work and then describes two models of strong families: the Family Circumplex Model developed by David Olson and colleagues and the The Family Strengths Model from the work of Nick Stinnett and the author. He notes that qualities identified in the two models which define strong families are very similar and this consistency extends to remarkable similarities among families across cultures in studies of strong families in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and now Australia.

Those who study families do so for many different reasons, but perhaps the most important reason is to learn how people can get along better with one another in an intimate environment. If researchers study only family problems, they are likely to find only family problems. Similarly, if educators, community organisers, therapists and researchers are interested in family strengths, they look for them. When these strengths are identified, they can become the foundation for continued growth and positive change in a family and a society. The author briefly describes research projects on strong families at the University of Newcastle, Family Action Centre and Department of Social Work and then describes two models of strong families: the Family Circumplex Model developed by David Olson and colleagues and the The Family Strengths Model from the work of Nick Stinnett and the author. He notes that qualities identified in the two models which define strong families are very similar and this consistency extends to remarkable similarities among families across cultures in studies of strong families in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and now Australia.

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