Program Outcomes for Parents & Families



Barbarin, O. A. (1993). Coping and resilience: Exploring the lives of African American children. Journal of Black Psychology, 19(4): 478-492

Abstract: A focus on the negative factors affecting African-American children living in poverty draws attention away from characteristics of African-American children who are resilient in the face of adverse circumstances. Although living in poverty places children at greater risk for problems such as poor academic performance and unstable personal relationships, personal resilience and environmental protective factors are believed to play mediating roles in the relationship between risk factors such as poverty and psychosocial development. Personal style of coping, the basic components of which are emotional regulation and self-control, is discussed as an important mediator of risk. A model of socio-emotional development for African-American children is proposed integrating the key relationships found in the literature reviewed in the article. The model suggests a set of relationships among socio-cultural, family, neighborhood, and personal coping factors that influence developmental outcomes. Suggestions for future research that would contribute to the understanding of the relationship between emotional development and coping and resilience are made.

Casas, C.C., Stinnett, N., Williams, R.C., Defrain, J., and Lee, P.A. (1984). Identifying family strengths in Latin American families. Family Perspective, 18, 11-17.

Abstract: Respondents from nine Latin American countries who considered their families to be strong answered the Family Strengths Inventory, an instrument designed to measure factors contributing to healthy family functioning. The six most frequently mentioned factors were 1) love and affection, 2) family togetherness, 3) understanding and acceptance, 4) mutual respect and appreciation, 5) communication/relationship skills, and 6) religion. A majority of the respondents also indicated high marital satisfaction, high parent-child relationship satisfaction, high self-esteem within the family, and frequent contact with extended family.

Deveaux, F. (1995). Intergenerational transmission of cultural family patterns. Family Therapy, 22(1): 17-23.

Abstract: The author stresses the importance of the transmission of cultural patterns in understanding family dynamics. A strategy called "story gathering" is described in which a client discusses recent familial issues interwoven with historical material. Through story gathering, the clinician learns about the cultural patterns of the client's family and helps the client to become aware of these patterns and how they contribute to the context in which familial relationships develop. Once the cultural context is recognized, it can be redefined and reorganized to foster more adaptive functioning. The author presents a case illustration and discusses the importance of cultural neutrality on the part of the clinician.

Littlejohn-Blake, S.M. and Darling, C.A. (1993). Understanding the strengths of African-American families. Journal of Black Studies, 23(4): 460-471.

Abstract: The authors define family strengths as "those relationship pat terns, interpersonal competencies, and social and psychological characteristics that create a sense of positive family identity." Four strengths of African-American families are identified: 1) religion and spirituality, 2) household elasticity (the taking in of family members and friends who need financial and/or emotional support), 3) resiliency in the face of adversity, and 4) family members' strong sense of self and heritage. These strengths are considered functionally adaptive and have developed in response to adverse external conditions. The authors apply various conceptual and theoretical perspectives such as exchange theory and the structural functional model in their analysis of the resiliency of African-American family patterns in an effort to explain the adaptive nature of these patterns. Methodological issues are also addressed. The authors argue that flawed sampling procedures can result in a distorted image of African-Americans and stress the importance of including African-American families of all class levels. Interviewer characteristics should also be a concern. Interviewers of the same racial back ground as the respondents are more likely to collect valid data and approach topics in a racially sensitive manner. The authors also suggest greater collection of qualitative data rather than quantitative data arguing that qualitative approaches provide more richly detailed data. Their recommendations for future research include cross-cultural comparisons of family strengths, theory development through interrelating the concepts presented in the family strengths literature, and a greater focus on African-American family stability and cultural identity.

Mace, D. R. (1983). Training families to deal creatively with conflict. In D. R. Mace (Ed.). Prevention in family services: Approaches to family wellness. Sage: Beverly Hills, CA

Abstract: This chapter presents the view that conflict is not necessarily damaging to familial relationships, but may contribute to the well-being of family members and the growth of love and intimacy in their relationships. The author confines his discussion to marital conflict because its resolution is important to healthy family functioning. Disagreement in marriage often involves anger, which, like conflict, has negative connotations. The author has a different perspective of anger, describing it as a protective mechanism that keeps individuals from becoming too close or too dependent on one another. In other words, anger helps maintain the balance between separateness and togetherness. Anger can be handled effectively through the development of a coping system. A coping system consists of 3 elements: commitment by both partners to the continuous growth of the relationship, open and effective communication, and the ability to use conflict creatively. An important part of the conflict resolution is the process of negotiation. The author suggests that couples make three contracts. The first is the agreement of both partners to discuss their anger with each other before they take action. Second, the partners should pledge that they will not attack each other when they are angry. Third, both partners should agree to discuss the problem as soon as possible so that they can understand what caused the anger. The process of negotiation involves three options. Capitulation involves either partner giving up his or her original stance and moving to the side of the other. Compromise entails finding a meeting point that can accommodate both partners. The partners may instead opt for co-existence or an agreement to differ for the time being until the situation can be changed. The author believes that these procedures can be learned by any couple with a desire to deal with conflict effectively. The use of these procedures is not limited to marital relationships. They can also be applied to other relationships in the family as well.

Razza, Carol. (1995). Improving, through participation in workshops, parents demonstration of play-skills within the family. Ed. D. Practicum, Nova Southeastern University. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No ED387728.

Abstract: This practicum was designed to increase parent awareness of the importance of family play interaction and to foster parents' ability to demonstrate these play skills as a couple and within the family. Questionnaires and personal interviews confirmed the need for more information on the importance of play and of age-appropriate play skills. A workshop was developed to enable parents to accomplish four goals: (1) to recognize their misunderstandings about play; (2) to teach the importance of both couple and family play; (3) to help participants understand the reasons for their lack of playful behavior; and (4) to inform parents about age appropriate play. Small and large group sharing, personal family interviews, and literature dissemination were also used to assure a complete knowledge base. Analysis of the data gathered and observation of the families indicated that the parents increased in both knowledge and demonstration. There was an increase of two or more points on all playfulness questions, indicating an overall better understanding of the benefits of playful behavior in the family. Communication with families proved to be a positive factor in increasing family cohesiveness. Four appendices contain survey instruments and an observational checklist.

Sawin, M. M. (1983). Whole family enrichment. In D. R. Mace (Ed.), Prevention in family services: Approaches to family wellness. Sage: Beverly Hills, CA.

Abstract: This chapter describes the Family Cluster Model developed by the author to tap families' potential strengths so that they may more effectively handle crises. A family cluster is described as a group of four or five families that agree to meet regularly to discuss their experiences centered familial relationships. It is based on the concept of families helping families in that a cluster provides mutual support and understanding and facilitates the development of family strengths. The philosophical foundations of the Family Cluster Model are based on five areas of knowledge: 1) Family systems. The family cluster provides a supportive environment in which a family can grow interpersonally. 2) Group dynamics. The individual family members influence the family system, the family system influences individual members, and the cluster influences each family. 3) Growth/change potential. Families are encouraged by the cluster to grow and change and to build on their strengths, dreams, and hopes. 4) Experiential learning. Each family member is given the opportunity to share their experiences and comment on the experiences of others in the cluster. 5) Process theology. Life experiences are interpreted in terms of a higher power or higher purpose. The Family Cluster model has eight goals: 1) To provide an intergenerational group where adults and children can relate easily to one another; 2) To provide a group which grows in support and mutuality; 3) To provide a place where parents and children gain perspective about one another by interacting with other parents and children; 4) To provide members with a wider outlook seeing their experiences as affecting themselves as individuals, as family members, and as group members; 5) To provide an opportunity for families to act as models for other families in their areas of strength; 6) To facilitate communication between generations about the meaning of life's experiences; 7) To help families discover and develop their strengths in a supportive environment; 8) To train family cluster leaders in positive intervention into family systems in an effort to facilitate productive growth and change within those families. The Family Cluster Model has been adapted for use in many types of settings including racially and culturally mixed public schools, the military, and drug prevention bureaus.

Stinnett, N. and Defrain, J. (1989). The healthy family: Is it possible? In M.J. Fine (Ed.), The Second Handbook on Parent Education. Academic Press: San Diego, CA

Abstract: The authors, who have been studying healthy families since the 1970s, discuss the six qualities of strong families consistently found in their studies: commitment, appreciation, communication, time together, spiritual wellness, and the ability to cope with stress and crisis. The authors argue that commitment binds the members of a family together and may act as the foundation for the other five family strengths. Committed family members consider the family their first priority and invest a great deal of time and energy in family activities. Appreciation is the expression of gratitude between family members. The authors suggest following the 10 to 1 rule: expressing appreciation for something positive a family member does at least 10 times for each negative thing you say. Communication in healthy families entails discussing major as well as trivial issues. Discussions are often task oriented and members are intent on getting problems solved. The communication patterns in strong families are characterized by factors like understanding the other person's view and breaking down problems into logical components. Members of strong families enjoy time with one another engaging in activities such as eating together, house hold chores, outdoor recreation, and church. Religion or spiritual wellness is important in many strong families. The authors describe it as a unifying force that promotes sharing, love, and compassion. Strong families successfully cope with stress and crisis and are creative and adaptable in the face of adversity. Their coping resources include pulling together, seeking help for their problems, and openly expressing emotion. The authors list and suggest reading the work of researchers like Otto and Olson whose findings are similar. They also recommend using family strengths concepts in parent education and programming.

Stinnett, N., Sanders, G., Defrain, J., and Parkhurst, A. (1982). A nationwide study of families who perceive themselves as strong. Family Perspective, 16(1): 15-22.

Abstract: Husbands and wives from families in all regions of the country were obtained through a news release announcing a National Study on Family Strengths. Four hundred thirty eight respondents from 283 families completed and returned the Family Strengths Inventory, an instrument designed to measure the components the contribute to family strengths. Five factors emerged as the most important family strengths: love (14.2%), religion (10.9%), respect (9.8%), communication (9.1%), and individuality (9.0%). When asked what activities served to make their families strong, the most frequently mentioned were enjoying the outdoors together (12.5%), vacations (10.3%), attending church (9.6%), sports (8.6%), and eating together (8.6%). A majority of the respondents reported that they enjoyed a very high or high degree of happiness in their relationships with their spouses and children. Husband wife and parent-child relationships were also shown to involve a very high degree of commitment (84% for husband wife relationships and 77.4% for parent-child relationships). Understanding (61.3%), commitment (15.4%), communication (12.0%), and love (11.9%) were the most important factors contributing to marital satisfaction. The factors that were found to contribute to parent-child relationship satisfaction were love (16.9%), communication (14.7%), and understanding wants and needs (8.9%). Most of the respondents reported that they contributed to their spouse's good feelings about self (81.8%) and that their spouses did the same for them (71.8%). Knowledge of the components of family strengths can be applied by counselors, educators, and ministers in the development of programs to strengthen family life. Further research should be conducted in these areas: strengths of families of different cultures, cross-cultural comparisons of family strengths, family strength scale development, and the use of the Family Strengths Inventory to study the differences between strong and weak families.



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