In 1974 University of Alabama professor Nick Stinnett began studying what healthy, happy families were doing right. Up until that point, similar studies focused on dysfunctional families. His study took more than twenty-four years and involved more than fourteen thousand families from different religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds. They came from all fifty states and twenty-four countries around the world.

What did Mr. Stinnett discover? He found that all families experience trouble. They have financial problems, illness and the daily ups and downs of life but, in the midst of it all they all did six things that helped them meet challenges and solve problems. The healthy families had a sense of loyalty and belonging with one another and felt good about themselves as a family.

As I read through these “secrets” I added reminders to myself after each point. My words are in italics.

Don’t you want to know what those secrets are? Here you go!

1. Commitment: Members of strong families are dedicated to promoting one another’s welfare and happiness. They prize their family and value the relationships. Do I remind myself of how blessed I am, thank God for my children and husband and tell my family how glad I am that God gave them to me?

2. Appreciation and Affection: Members of strong families are thankful for each other. They don’t take their special relationships with one another for granted.. Do I communicate to my value to my family by turning to look them in the eye, listening well and prioritizing my time wisely even when we are physically close to each other for long periods of time?

3. Positive Communication: Members of strong families spend a lot of time talking freely with one another, doing their best to be understood and to understand. Do I control my tongue when I am frustrated or overwelmed by the work of running a household? Do I praise my family for what they do right, thank my husband for his provision for our family and tell others outside of the family how terrific I think my loved ones are?

4. Time together: Members of strong families spend generous amounts of time with one another-quality time-creating memories and building bonds. Do I work hard to make sure that we all get together daily to eat and talk?

5. Spiritual Well-Being: Strong families, whether they attend formal religious services or not, have a sense of a greater good that gives them strength and purpose as a unit.Do I pray for my children, teach them to worship the lord and organize our household so that we can get up and out the door to gather with other believers every Sunday morning?

6. The Ability to Cope with Stress and Crisis: Members of strong families are not fragmented by tension and trouble. They use those experiences to learn and grow together.Do I “act” instead of react in crisis situations? Am I focused on the Lord day by day so that when the hard times come I do not give into fear and panic? Is my mind filled with God’s word so that what comes out of my mouth is filled with hope and truth even when life seems to be radically changing?