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How long would it take for your home to collapse if it lay atop swaying stilts?

Just like a house, having a solid foundation is paramount to the families we serve. Without proper foundational support, families are subject to stressful conditions and instability. A solid and stable foundation is vital to the health and longevity of a strong and resilient family. So, what makes a family strong and how can we put it into practice?

Research has shown that families with strong “protective factors” have increased health and well-being, resources, support, and coping strategies to parent effectively, cope with adversity, and prevent child abuse and neglect. One tool used to help strengthen families is identifying and implementing the “Five Protective Factors.” The Center for the Study of Social Policy describes the five protective factors as:

characteristics or strengths of individuals, families, communities or societies that act to mitigate risks and promote positive well-being and healthy development. Most often, we see them as attributes that help families to successfully navigate difficult situations.

The Five Protective Factors include:

Concrete Support in Time of Need. Families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing, and transportation—and who know how to access essential services such as childcare, health care, and mental health services to address family-specific needs—are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.

Parental Resilience. Parents who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well as occasional crisis, have resilience; they have the flexibility and inner strength necessary to bounce back when things are not going well. For more on Resilience see our blog post from last month here.

Social Connections. Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves.

Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development. Children thrive when parents provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations, and safe opportunities that promote independence.

Social and Emotional Competence. Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing a positive relationship with caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development.

These five factors could mean the difference between family breakdown or the strengthening of a family during difficult times. Any of us could face significant stress on the family, from a debilitating injury of the sole working parent, to a illness of a grandparent that takes resources or even a parent away from the core family. All families will face adversity at some point or another, these five factors can help protect and strengthen your family to weather the storm.

How will you use the Five Protective factors to strengthen your family?

Contact our Family Services Center today for more information on resources that Thompson provides to strengthen children and families.

Written by Kimberly Keefer

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