I readily admit that not every family takes responsibility for the way they interact with one another or the world around them. But as I think about families from a strengths perspective, I have seen so many decisions that appeared to be contrary to a family’s interests, yet were born out of the desire to act independently and in a manner as to control outcomes for itself. Outcomes may not be optimal, but in the end it is at times this very act of taking responsibility for outcomes rather than turning decisions over to someone else that can help the family get unstuck.
Families deserve respect for trying to act responsibly.
It becomes clear to extended family, friends, or professionals from time to time that a family is stuck in a cycle of trying to act on their own to solve problems, only to discover that they are descending deeper into a hole of their own making:
Social pressure and guilt are two tremendous drivers in families that make poor decisions in an attempt to be responsible. But the sense of responsibility that is present in those families must be recognized and fostered by the supports around them.
Truth-tellers, nurturers, advisors, task-takers, listeners, go-for’s, advocates, sounding boards, role models
preferably from informal sources who are invested personally.
The level of trauma, distress, disappointment, abuse, grief and loss a family has experienced is huge in balancing a family’s brave attempts at responsibility with real or potential negative results. Again, these families need help but deserve to have their need to act on their own behalf respected and validated.
Have you ever tried to make something better only to have it get worse? That’s the real frustration for a lot of families. How can people in need be approached with respect and true assistance?