Making Families Strong
ormer President Ronald Reagan, in an interview with Dr. James Dobson, reported in Focus on the Family magazine, said, "I don't believe you can have a strong, healthy nation without the family unit as its very base. As the family goes, so goes the nation."1
Dr. Nick Stinnett, chairman of the Department of Human Development and the Family at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, agrees. He believes that history clearly illustrates the relationship between the strength of families and the strength of nations.
"As we study some of the ancient cultures such as that of Egypt, Rome and Greece," says Stinnett, "we see a common pattern: When these cultures were coming into the peak of their power and glory as nations, the family was strong. It was important and was valued very highly. Family members cooperated with one another. They depended on each other.
"Then, as these nations progressed along their paths of destiny, the family came to be not so highly valued, the culture became extremely individualistic. It was a 'do your own thing' philosophy to an excessive degree. The families deteriorated. When that happened the societies themselves fell."2
The family shapes the nation because it shapes the lives of those who make up the nation. It is within the family that we either gain or fail to gain our sense of belonging, our sexual identity, and our sense of self-worth. The family also teaches us values and how to relate to other people.
When these basic needs for belonging, acceptance, self-worth, and training in wholesome values and relationships are not adequately met, the seeds of juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, drug abuse, impaired relationships, marriage breakdown, divorce, homosexuality, depression and mental illness are sown. And the more of these problems we have, the weaker our nation becomes.
Because as a nation we are so dependent on the strength of our families, we need to do all in our power to develop stronger, healthier homes.
Being concerned with what makes families healthy, Dr. Stinnett led a major international research project to learn the secrets of strong families. His studies included strong black, white, ethnic, and single-parent families in North America, South America, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and South Africa.
His findings were discussed at a national forum held in Washington, D.C., where family specialists and leaders from various sectors of society gathered specifically to determine exactly what it was that made families strong. The content of these discussions is presented in the excellent book edited by Dr. George Rekers and titled, Family Building: Six Qualities of a Strong Family.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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