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The Psychologically Healthy Family

The Psychologically Healthy Family

By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.

All families have psychological problems. It's not easy to grow up without any emotional scars, make and sustain a satisfactory marriage for forty to fifty years and rear children to be healthy, independent adults.

What follows is a checklist of questions to gauge the psychological health of your family. Any questions you answer negatively will suggest what areas you may need to strengthen.

How do you and your spouse - or ex-spouse, if you're divorced - feel about yourselves? Do you have high self-esteem and enjoy what you are doing? The psychological health of children is often a reflection of the psychological health of their parents.

Does your marriage provide you with more satisfaction than problems? Are many of your emotional, psychological and sexual needs being met by your spouse, and vice versa?

Since all marriages have problems, are you and your spouse able to communicate and compromise to solve them? These are the two abilities which are most critical for the success of relationships.

Is decision-making power between you and your spouse equally shared? Can you either agree on major decisions or comfortably divide spheres of decision-making responsibility? Marriages in which one spouse is too much "the boss" can be strained.

If you're divorced, are you and your ex-spouse still involved with your children in loving, committed ways? Are you able to communicate and cooperate with each other for their sake? You're no longer lovers but you're still parents to the same children.

Is discipline in your family firm, fair and flexible? Are the family rules clearly spelled out and consistently backed up by predictable rewards and penalties?

Do you use more rewards than punishments in controlling your children? Rewards are a more effective way to discipline youngsters and better instills self-esteem in them.

As they grow older, can your children have more of a voice in formulating rules and consequences? The more you can share rule-making authority about negotiable items such as chores, hours and grades, the more willing your offspring may be to follow the family rules.

Is affection freely expressed in your family so that all members feel securely loved? Are you all able to liberally hug, praise and support each other? The need for supportive love is perhaps the most important need the family should meet.

If they're still alive, do you maintain a good relationship with your parents? Have you resolved most of your past conflicts and hurts as much as you can? In troubled families, there are often strained, hurtful or broken relationships between the parents and grandparents which may need some mending before immediate family problems can be resolved.

My questions have been designed to describe an ideally healthy family, which probably doesn't exist in the real world. So if you didn't answer Yes to all the questions, don't worry. You're like the rest of us.

But do think about what you can do to reduce the problems in your family with which all families struggle.


About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book, Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com, all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors copyright and website hyperlinks.

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