As we wrap up the old year and begin the new, the folks at Around the Table continue to strive to create strong healthy families in our community that are full of resilience and appreciation of one another.

To reiterate the six characteristics of a strong family is important from time to time in order to refresh one’s memory of the family traits which build relationships and give teens protective tools to help them deal with day to day situations.

As stated in previous articles, the six characteristics which a strong family exhibits are: spending time together, communicating effectively, showing an appreciation of one another, maintaining a commitment to the family, developing resilience and good coping skills, and finally, possession of a set of family values and convictions.

It is this final characteristic, “possession of family values and convictions”, which will be the focus of the Around the Table articles and conversations for the next month.

It is relevant at this point to offer a definition of “family values and convictions.” By way of definition, let us say that it is important for family members to talk about those things which they collectively value, believe in and treasure.

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Through discussions together families can decide how they feel about all aspects of their lives. It is crucial to include children in discussions of family values because they need to know where their parents stand on every issue. This understanding gives children and teens a moral compass as they go into the world and try to make decisions on their own.

When parents provide stability and leadership in the family through discussions of religion, honesty, integrity, kindness, respect and other core values, children have a clearer picture of “who they are” and what they stand for.

By developing a set of common values and beliefs together, a family begins to build a strong foundation upon which to build a solid life. Not only should parents have strong beliefs, themselves, but they need to communicate those values to their children in a very clear and concrete way.

They need to talk openly and honestly with one another so there is no question about where the family stands on issues, actions and situations. As a child progresses from childhood into adolescence, he or she will be faced peer pressure and may be asked to do things with which he or she is uncomfortable.

Adolescents are pressured to deal with everything from music to dress code to use of substances and more. This is not a time for them to feel unsure of what the right decisions should be. This is not a time to wonder what their parents might think or do. Adolescents NEED a strong anchor and support system to get them through these difficult years. Parents have a responsibility to guide children through these growing years.

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This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Kaye Frataccia, Around the Table, Program Manager