Healthy Family Involvement


Healthy families are able to maintain a consistent level of emotional involvement with one another, yet at the same time, not become too involved in each other's lives.

Emotional involvement is a key to successful family functioning. Characteristics of strong families are are expressions of appreciation, spending time together, strong commitment to the family, good communication, and positive conflict resolution.

Healthy families protect their boundaries, and at the same time, give members room to negotiate their independence. Achieving this balance is difficult, particularly in families with adolescents.

Emotional involvement is concerned with how much family members are involved with each other. Both over-involvement and under-involvement are patterns of behavior that can pose problems for families.

Under-involved families share some interests but show very little investment of self in the feelings or life situations of other family members. Members act more like boarders in a house, than like family members.

In over-involved families, the members become too involved and are sometimes over-protective of other family members. The over-protected members remain dependent and fail to grow and develop. Over-involvement may create conflict and resentment among family members who try to break out of the dependency role.

The healthiest families have an emotional investment in one another and care deeply about each other's activities and feelings. When family members feel they are supported and encouraged, and that their personal interests are valued, family interaction becomes more effective.

A suggestion for developing healthy family involvement is to set up a family meeting. A meeting provides a safe, structured environment where family members feel free to bring up issues and concerns they may have about the family. The meeting is a way to share hopes and achievements as well as to resolve family conflicts.

For a family meeting:
Set a definite and regular time and place to meet.
Include the whole family.
Chose a chairperson (the role should be rotated) among members who are capable of leading the meeting.
Hear family member's concerns, and find solutions to problems.
Make plans for enjoyable family activities.
No one must attack (blame) other members during the meeting.
Everyone can bring up issues and discuss concerns.
Everyone must carry out the decisions made in the meeting.
Decisions made cannot be changed or ignored.
Decisions can be renegotiated at another family meeting.
Family members must feel that they are being heard-respected.