Building Family Strengths: Spirituality
Strong families have a sense of spirituality that is defined in different ways. It is a spirit that transcends "self" and is expressed in many forms. It implies a way of acting toward others with whom there is a relationship or connection. A strong spiritual base has been identified as an important strength for families that helps them celebrate and value the gift of life. Spirituality can provide hope, support and sense of purpose to life.
WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?
Spirituality is believing in a higher power and acting on a value system beyond self-interest. It provides a sense of purpose and support in everyday life and during difficult times. Spirituality is a guiding force that bonds the family together. However, spirituality for America's families has diverse meanings, extended beyond as well as among family members.
Spirituality offers a belief system that teaches how to have healthy relationships within the family unit and with others. This is true even in painful and tough situations. A strong spiritual base . . .
- Provides a sense of love and being loved. It can improve your self-image.
- Provides a way to deal with successes and failures, especially in relationships with family, friends and significant others. It teaches us to seek forgiveness when we have wronged another and learn to forgive when we have been wronged.
- Gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It provides the comfort and feeling that our lives are part of a higher purpose.
- Pushes us to look outside of ourselves for love, support and strength when needed.
- Encourages hope rather than despair when life seems to close in on us.
PROMOTING SPIRITUALITY WITHIN THE FAMILY
Families with a sense of spirituality carry a gratitude and sense of hope that recognizes even the little things of life as special events. A strong spiritual base gives families a sense of belonging and acceptance by a higher being. It gives meaning and purpose to families that provide strength and hope in times of adversity. Spirituality provides a greater sense of purpose and a stronger sense of support from family and friends.
Through their spiritual beliefs, families find ways to deal with successes and also failures, especially in family relationships. They learn to be supportive and to forgive and forget to maintain healthy relationships within the family unit.
Spirituality provides tools and models for building good relationships in the family. It is a key element in establishing strong caring families. Some of the benefits of a strong spiritual base will show up in families whose spirituality . . .
- Offers the basis for good self-esteem. This is necessary for individuals within the family unit to have value and self-worth.
- Offers a belief system that recognizes the importance of families in teaching values and skills for life within communities.
- Offers a belief system that teaches the critical need for support systems that encourages positive family relationships.
This is true no matter how painful these relationships may be in stressful situations or during times of crisis.
Reprinted with the permission of Clemson University. © 2008 Clemson University.
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