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checklist is http://sfhelp.org/fam/traits.htm
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brief YouTube video offers perspective on what you'll find in this worksheet.
The video mentions eight lessons in this self-improvement Web site - I've
reduced that to seven:
Families and other groups exist to nurture(fill key
needs of) their members. Those that nurture ("function") better than others
have notable traits. This checklist provides a way for you to assess
for these traits in a family or other social group. If
a family is "dysfunctional" (low nurturance), it's kids are at risk of
is one of several worksheets you
can use to help assess for these psychological wounds.
research on the toxic effects
of low-nurturance families
What's a "Healthy" Family?
did your developmental needs get met in your early-childhood family? How
well does your present family nurture its adults and kids? Let's define a high-nurturance
wholistically-healthy) family as one whos leader/s consistently...
to fill thelocal and long-term physical, spiritual, and psychological
needs of all
family members equally,
and who want to...
their family's social and ecological environments over time.
Would you change this definition?
Typical people who grew up in low-nurturance families dont
know what a
high-nurturance family looks,
feels, and sounds like.To
Grown Wounded Children (GWCs), low family nurturance is
GWCs are asked "Was your birthfamily or
childhood pretty healthy?" most of us will say sincerely "Sure!" - when it
wasnt wholistically healthy at all.
social-science researchers suggest that
"functional" (high-nurturance) families, schools,
churches, teams, committees, and workplaces have many of the traits below. Did (or
Print this checklist,
and choose an undistracted time and place to fill it out.
Decide who to rate: your birthfamily, past marriage family,
single-parent family, present household or family, school or class, work group, church
community, or other group.
Decide specificallywho comprises this group: just
those people who live or work together now or in the past, or emotionally-impactful absent members,
too - including living and dead grandparents and/or other relatives, special friends,
Decide who leads the group in
calm and stressful times. Other members look to them for guidance and
reassurance, and usually follow their decisions.
Pick a time frame: now or in specific earlier (e.g.
Thoughtfully note this familys or groups traits. Check
each item below that fits well enough in your judgment. If you're unsure about an
item, use "?".
Take your time, note which items give you the strongest
emotional reactions, and consider why... ("This item makes me feel
Make notes, underline, or hilight key items.Note
that two people can use __ __ this worksheet or you can rate two
groups. Option - for each item, use the second
"__" to record how you think someone like your mate or parent would
Option - jot down
thoughts, feelings, and questions as you review this checklist. They can
be just as important as your answers
Ifsome of these items don’t merit a clear yes or no
answer, consider using a scale of one to five to indicate the degree of
"trueness" (5) or "falseness." (1).
As I get ready to fill out this checklist,
I believe that
as far as filling my psychological and spiritual
needs, my birthfamily was (check one):
_ very low
nurturance / _ fairly low / _ neither / _ fairly high
/ _ very high
I believe this has had
nourishing / _ no significant / _ very harmful effects on my
development as a person.
High-nurturance Families and Groups
If you're rating a group, substitute "group" for "family," and "leader/s" for
"co-parents" below. You can use this checklist to rate someone
else's family too - e.g. a mate, parent, or grandparent. Only check an
item as "true" "__" if you can check each sub-item "_".
Additional traits are shown for typical stepfamilies.
36 items in this checklist apply to all families, including
The next 10 items add key traits of high-nurturance
__ __ 1)
family adults are usually
true Self orthey are committed to helping each
other reduce any significant psychological
in themselves and each other.
__ __ 2)All adults discuss, teach, and live from a meaningful
mission or vision statement - i.e. they agree
on and intentionally pursue realistic long-range goals for
themselves and their descendents.
__ __ 3) All family members
feel basically good about themselves and each other - i.e.
they have high self and mutual respect ("esteem") most of the time.
4) All members usually feel
and assert their current thoughts, feelings, opinions, and
needs without fear of being scorned,
ignored, attacked, or rejected. This includes feeling safe to disagree with
family leaders, supporters, and other members.
__ __ 5)The
kids', mates', and whole-family activities is usually satisfying enough
to all members.
__ __ 6) Family adults are committed to
learning, teaching, and using effective thinking, communicating, and
skills in and between their homes and with other people.
__ __ 7)Family
problems (unmet and/or conflicting
needs) are discussed
and promptly, and are usually
resolved, rather than being denied,
ignored, minimized, deferred, debated, or endlessly rehashed.
__ __ 8)
Resident adults are
clearly and consistently in charge of each family home,
without dependents feeling
smothered, over-controlled, ignored, or afraid to be themselves.
Everyone _ is clear on who is
leading the family, and everyone _ usually trusts the leader/s'
__ __ 9)
Each family member has
wholistically-healthy friends, and
_ regular satisfying activities outside the family
(vs. being socially isolated).
_ Kids and adults friends move freely in and out of the family's home, feeling
welcomed, valued, and respected by all members; without violating family or
individual privacies and boundaries.
More traits of high-nurturance families and groups...
__ __ 10) All family members usually feel
noticed, valued, and
listened to (vs. agreed with) by each other, even during conflicts and
__ __ 11) Children usually trust their
primary caregivers to _ consistently and genuinely care about their major
and hurts; and to _ protect them effectively, vs. minimizing, ignoring, or increasing their needs, fears,
__ __ 12) _
Each family child and adult feels safe, appreciated, enjoyed, supported, and
unconditionally enough of the time. _ No one is or was a black sheep or
scapegoat. (Take your time with this
__ __ 13) Kids feel that their caregivers and
siblings are basically happy and secure enough, regardless of current
health, work, financial, security, relationship, or
__ __ 14)
rules and consequences
are clear, appropriate, timely, and consistent enough for everybody.
_ Child discipline
is "firmly flexible." It aims to teach vs. punish (cause pain, guilt,
and shame), and is usually enforced consistently, promptly, and
lovingly. _ Co-parents are usually united in explaining, modeling, and setting behavioral limits (boundaries), and providing
and enforcing consequences.
__ __ 15) Adults _ are usually open to considering constructive feedback and new ideas about family functioning from
all family members and knowledgeable others. _ Even when feeling criticized,
family leaders are
usually able to listen to the upset person/s, vs. attack, defend, explain, ignore,
rank, or leave.
__ __ 16) _ Genuine(vs. dutiful or
manipulative) praise, appreciation, and
encouragement are spontaneously exchanged
often among all family members and with others. _ Adults and
kids are comfortable receiving and acknowledging compliments without
discomfort, discounting, and/or false
__ __ 17)
members feel comfortable exchanging
and family responsibilities) within their abilities - e.g. kids may plan and make some meals, or various people may do thelaundry, without excessive griping.
_ A steady feeling of spontaneous
(vs. dutiful, political, or fear-based) teamwork and co-operation exists
most of the time in and between family homes.
__ __ 18)
Individual and family
humor, play, and
kidding are spontaneous, and have no major hidden agendas or
usually feel balanced enough with serious times to everyone.
__ __ 19)
All adults and older kids
take _ responsibility and _ credit for their own choices and actions, vs.
victimized by, or
''rescuing'' each other.
__ __ 20)
welfare and activities of each family member are usually of real interest
and appropriate concern to other members. _ All members are regularly open to discussion and
confrontation, without smothering (enmeshment). _ Family
integrity and dignity is highly valued by everyone, and _
members spontaneously feel family commitment, loyalty, and
pride (vs. shame,
indifference), without losing their personal
identity or integrity.
__ __ 21)
_ Interpersonal conflict and
confrontations happen spontaneously and real-time. _ They're generally supportive,
mutually respectful, and constructive,rather than blameful, rageful, shaming, belittling,
or manipulative. _ Minor kids can safely confront the adults, as well as the
reverse. _ Such confrontations often result in
empathic listening and effective
problem-solving, vs. justifying,
arguing, blaming, explaining, whining, debating, defocusing,
counterattacking, condescending, pretending, withdrawing, or ignoring.
__ __ 23) _ There are no major taboos or
family secrets (e.g.
addictions, miscarriages, abortions, desertions,
crimes, job losses, incest, bankruptcies,
affairs,...) about the
current family or relatives or ancestors. _
There is no un/spoken rule that says "We
don't talk about that in our family."
More traits of high-nurturance families and groups...
__ __ 24) _ All members - specially
- are encouraged to acknowledge and
invisible losses without shame, guilt, or anxiety._ Members
are consistently comfortable with talking honestly about their losses; openly crying when
sad or joyous; sharing despair, when felt; and showing
anger (within appropriate limits)
at each other, other people, or "life."
Knowledgeable observers would say
the family lives by a coherent, healthy
__ __ 25) _ The adult
spiritual growth in themselves, each other, and younger
members. _ Shared
and private spiritual and religious activities consistently yield warmth,
serenity, tolerance, hope,
compassion, courage, and closeness, vs.
shame, guilt, anxiety, dread,
scorn, bigotry, elitism, and/or confusion.
27) All family adults are _ clear on the difference between
shame and guilt and
_ they all model and teach their kids how to manage both emotions
28) _ Family members
spontaneously express their
love and affection physically within healthy sexual limits. _ Adult
sexuality is private, loving, and mutually enjoyed. _ The caregivers consistently and
sensitively guide kids to understand, accept, and appreciate their own
sensuality, and sexuality within age, family, and societal norms.
_ They do this without excessive
excitement, shame or guilt. _ All members usually feel comfortable enoughto
discuss gender and sexual issues with each other.
__ __ 29)
_ Family mates
prize and maintain their
boundaries as individuals and as committed, loving
_ consistently rank their relationship
second only to personal
wholistic health, and _ they try to
balance and enjoy time with the kids, with
each other, with relatives and friends, their
and by themselves. _ Co-parents consistently take their
primary relationship and
roles as separate,
high-priority concerns - each warranting significant time, thought, integrity,
__ __ 30) _ Allfamilymembers typically
mistakes, disappointments, and "failures" to each other without undue
anxiety, shame, or embarrassment
(public shame). _ Most mistakes are viewed as chances to
rather than as personal flaws and failures. _ Adults and kids can often laugh at themselves appreciatively, vs. with significant guilt
31) All family members are
and optimistic. Each person usually feels that...
_ most people are basically good, trustworthy, and mean well;
_ life problems may
usually be resolved with time and patient, honest effort; and...
_ it's usually OK to ask for help from others and a
Higher Power without guilt, shame, or anxiety;
__ __ 32) No one in
the family is probably or surely addicted to, or regularly over-uses:
acquiring, spending, counting, gambling, investing, or saving money or other
food (e.g. sugar and fat) and/or eating
_ alcohol, and/or illegal drugs
caffeine and/or nicotine
conflict or excitement
God, worship, or spirituality
cleaning and neatness
power and control
"fairness," "justice," or
a social cause
__ __ 33) _ The family
leader/s agree enough on clear, realistic
goals for the group, and
_ willingly share
responsibility for achieve them over time.
__ __ 34) Each
co-parent's own birthfamily
had most (e.g. over 20) of these traits.
__ __ 35) (Add your
__ __ 36) (Add your
Pause and notice your thoughts and emotions, What are you aware of?
If you're not in a
or aren't concerned about someone who is, go
stepfamilies also have these traits:
__ __ 37)
All adults and kids _ accept their
as a normal stepfamily, and they each _ agree on
who belongs. _ There
are no significant inclusion/exclusion conflicts in or between related
__ __ 38)All adults have _ learned and discussed stepfamily
basics, and _ have intentionally
corrected any misconceptions they
had about stepfamily realities.
They can each "pass" this stepfamily quiz.
__ __ 39)
or widowedco-parent _ has no
of unfinished grief from their prior losses; and _ is steadily
supporting each minor child as they grieve their own losses from family
reorganization/s like divorce, parental re/marriage, and cohabiting.
__ __ 40)
Divorcing bioparents have forgiven _
themselves and _ each other, and are _ working effectively to reduce
any major relationship
Despite values differences, _ all co-parents share mutual respect and a
sense of teamwork in nurturing their minor kids towards adult
__ __ 41)
Adults in the co-parents'three or more extended biofamilies have agreed on a cooperative
to combine and stabilize
of their respective families over several years after new mates commit.
__ __ 42) All stepfamily adults are _ aware of typical stepkids'
family-adjustment needs, and _ are
steadily working to assess and fill these needs effectively together as
__ __ 43) Disputes over child visitations, custody, activities, education,
health, discipline, worship, financial support, names, holidays, and
are _ resolved cooperatively _ without legal action, and _ usually don't recur.
__ __ 44)
Co-parents (bioparents and stepparents) _ are intentionally evolving an
and _ are learning how to evaluate stepfamily
__ __ 45)
__ __ 46)
what you're thinking and how you feel
now. What does that mean?
The more of these traits a family or
group has consistently, the higher its nurturance level (functionality) and
wholistic health.Conversely, the fewer of
these traits in a given family, classroom, church, organization, or
the harder it is
for some or most members to get their
primary needs met
well enough, often enough.
psychologically-wounded people will usually minimize or deny that their family had
too few of the traits above, Knowledgeable friends and
professionals would disagree.
If you rated your
Consider discussing your conclusions with any surviving childhood
caregivers, siblings, and/or relatives
for added perspective;
Reflect on the effects
the items not checked have had on (a) your personality, (b) your
relationships, (c) your kids, if any; (d) your job/s and career, and (e)
Compare your trait-profile
with your current family's traits, and ponder significant similarities and
If you are (or were) in a
committed relationship, compare your birthfamily's traits to your
partner's childhood-family traits.
you rated your prior-marriage family...
Consider discussing the worksheet with your
ex-mate and/or (older) children for their awareness, input, and insights;
Use the results and
this worksheet to increase
your awareness of any significant unfinished divorce issues;
With these traits in mind,
review these worksheets on typical minor kids'
adjustment needs, and meditate on
how your family nurturance level affected your kids personality, growth,
learning, health, and behavior;
Consider the likely effects on your child/ren
and descendents of those items not
checked, and discuss this with your "ex" and/or relevant others;
Use the latter as guidelines in setting current
and counseling goals to strengthen and heal your child/ren.
Options If you rated yourpresent family...
subselves, present partner, and your respective ancestors on the traits you checked!
unchecked traits as guidelines for revising family
or parenting behaviors, priorities, or therapy goals, Use this
as a resource.
Rate and compare
your and your partner's respective childhood families, and discuss any patterns and implications.
If you're in a
stepfamily, study and discuss
If you rated your
ex or present
Premise - typical psychologically-wounded, unaware adults unconsciously tend to recreate their childhood-family's
nurturance level, despite conscious vows not to. If checklist blanks outnumber checks (strengths)...
these traits in mind, reflect on
chose this partner,
if you and/or a partner
have significant personal or relationship problems, use your findings
here to help decide whether or not to
this partner for psychological
(low childhood nurturance promotes them). See Lesson 1.
If you rated your work, church, school, or other group...
Substitute "group" for family, and "leader/s" for "caregivers,
parents, and adults" in the above items. Most non-parenting traits apply to the nurturance level of any group of people.
nurturance levels of the elementary and high schools you spent almost one third of your childhood days
in, and reflect on how this affected your development and adult-life
rate the influence of any churches you attended as
a child. Their psychological and perhaps
significantly shaped your personality subselves, specially if it
amplified the influence of your home/s!
and I now believe thatas far as
psychological and spiritual
my birthfamily was (check one):
_ very low
nurturance / _ fairly low / _ neither
/ _ fairly high / _ very high
and that this has had...
growthful / _ very harmful / _ no significant effects on me as a
person, mate, and/or parent.
Thoughts / Notes
This Lesson-5 checklist builds on the idea that families and other human
groups exist to nurturer (fill the needs of) their members. Based on
36 years' clinical research, the checklist provides a set of traits common
to typical high-nurturance ("functional") families and groups to assess how effective a
family or group is at filling its members' needs. The checklist
concludes with several options and suggestions for using your results.
For more perspective,
also see these typical traits of members of a high-nurturance family or group.