Thriving Families

About the thriving families campaign and the Northwest Quadrant:

The Northwest Quadrant is a subcommittee of the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. We are a group of local agencies, schools, parents, youth, and individuals working to help families in the Tri-Cities thrive. While our focus is preventing youth substance abuse, we understand teens experiment with alcohol or other drugs for a variety of reasons, and if we truly want our community to be the healthiest place for kids, our families need to have the resources to be as strong as they can be. The Thriving Families Campaign came out of this desire to help our community understand the challenges we face as a community and to build the skills and protective factors to make sure every child, teen, parent and family can thrive.

What is a Thriving Family?

A thriving family feels connected to each other, spends quality time together, and knows each other’s likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, challenges and concerns. A Thriving family is one that talks about those tough issues and has open communication. Whether you agree with each other or not, challenging conversations are not ignored. A Thriving family is resilient and able to bounce back from life’s curveballs because they trust each other. A Thriving Family accepts each other, understands each other’s point of view and knows they are not perfect and it is ok. A thriving family has structure, boundaries, and accountability. Children and teens thrive when they know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be when they cross the line and a thriving family clearly communicates these expectations.

How do we define a family?

Any way you want. While our campaign emphasis is on supporting families with pre-teens and teens, a family has a variety of structures. The way to build a thriving family applies no matter how you define your family.

Characteristics of Thriving Families:

A thriving family has quality family time; including time without electronics.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. Spend time together: From family meals to outdoor activities to family movie night these shared memories build relationships, trust and a family bond.
  2. Purposeful quality time: In our over-connected world, we can get distracted even during time we are spending with our loved ones. Turning off the electronics, shutting down social media and taking breaks from being electronically connected are important ways to build a family bond and develop family relationships, especially with pre-teens and teens.
  3. Disconnect: Pre-teens and teens are experiencing mental health disorders at an increasing rate. Research is starting to tell us it has a lot to do with the use of electronics and social media. Helping your kids set boundaries around their devices is an important skill both now and for their future.
  4. Talk about feelings: Quality time also allows you to understand and acknowledge your children’s feelings and how to support them.

A thriving family has other positive adults supporting both the parents and the children or youth.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. Connect your pre-teens and teens to other adults in your life. It could be working out a system with your best friend where you watch each other’s kids on a regular basis, or enrolling your child in a summer camp or a sport. The opportunities to spend time with other adults who can be a positive influence are important to the development of healthy pre-teens and teens.
  2. It is important to know who is safe for your children to spend time with. For ways to prevent child sexual abuse please contact the Ottawa County Children’s Advocacy Center.
  3. Remember we all have different amounts of trauma in our lives, and trauma can significantly impact the way we interact in the world. So, how do we support others with trauma? By having some grace and remembering someone else may have a different perspective.

A thriving family has open communication and critical conversations and does not shy away from tough talks.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. One of the most important ways to help teens make those tough, and wise choices is to talk to them about their goals. We asked and teens overwhelmingly said their goals in life are what help keep them from choosing to use alcohol or other drugs. But, our teens don’t automatically know how to set goals. Parents and Caregivers can help with this by talking to their pre-teens and teens about their goals, what they want to accomplish and the steps to take to get there.
  2. Critical conversations are a must for a thriving family. But these conversations can’t happen if you are distracted. While it can be helpful to talk while driving or playing a video game together, make sure your pre-teen or teen is the focus of your attention.
  3. When they were toddlers, your kids thrived when they knew the rules, and it’s easy to assume our teens still know the rules. But, what we hear from teens, is that they actually want to keep hearing what your expectations are for them. It helps them know where the boundaries are.
  4. When giving expectations, make sure to include a lot of praise too. It will help keep your pre-teen and teen grounded in who they are; important when standing up to peer pressure.
  5. Handling conflict with a pre-teen and teen can be rough. They often respond emotionally to conflict, and it can be stressful for parents. Engage with the conflict in healthy ways by taking time to cool off and refrain from the toughest conversations in the heat of the moment. Help your kids also know when they need a break during conflict. Handling conflict in healthy ways can give perspective and make the situation not seem so overwhelming.
  6. The questions about alcohol and drugs are some of the hardest. Talk about the emerging trends happening among teens and get your youth’s thoughts and feedback. Listening to them can help make the difference.

A thriving family has positive mental health and prevents, and treats addiction. A thriving family does not ignore a mental health crisis; they get help when it is needed.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. Talk about Mental Health and Addiction. It’s all around us whether we talk about it or not.
  2. If you have concerns about your pre-teen or teen and their mental health or potential use of alcohol, drugs or vaping, there is help. Getting help does not mean you are a failing family, it is actually the opposite. Strong families recognize when they need help and ask.
  3. A thriving family celebrates recovery. Recovery is hard work. If you or someone you know, needs more support in your recovery visit mirecovery.info.
  4. A thriving family builds their resilience muscle. It doesn’t mean that life doesn’t get stressful or that we ignore the hard things that come up. Resilience means we take time to take care of ourselves. Finding a healthy activity you can do individually or with your family will not only help build your resilience, but will teach your children and youth how to do the same.

A thriving family sets boundaries and turns off the outside noise. This includes social media.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. There are so many influences our pre-teens and teens have. Dealing with peer pressure can be a tough one. We can help our youth by teaching them several sets of skills. Coping skills help teens deal with stress well so they do not turn to alcohol or drugs. Peer Refusal skills give our teens the words to say to get out of tough situations.
  2. Failure is a tough thing to handle, and most of us do not like to feel failures. But, helping your teen learn from failure instead of being afraid of it, helps them learn to be resilient and to stay true to themselves instead of the influence of their peers.
  3. One of the biggest influences and largest sources of the outside noise is the media we consume. From ads to billboards, to emails, we are all bombarded every day with messages others want us to hear. Help your teen understand the messages they are hearing by teaching media literacy. This skill helps us all look at media, understand the underlying messages, and make better choices with less influence from others. The Partnership at Drug free.org has helpful resources for teaching media literacy to teens.

A thriving family has a variety of structures and has parents and caregivers who somedays think they are doing a great job and other days think they are falling apart.

Ways to build a thriving family:

  1. if you are struggling as a parent, talk to another parent. Find support from your friends and family and know that you are not alone. If you need more than a friend, there are ways to build your parenting toolbox with our parenting resources.
  2. Healthy relationships are important for teens. Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence can help you talk to your youth about how to have a healthy relationship.
  3. Your values are important. They are the basis for who you want your kids to be as adults. Talk about your values and share them with your kids. It might just make all the difference.

 

Local resources:

Momentum Center www.extendedgrace.org/momentum-center

OAR https://oar-inc.org

Wedgewood Christian Services www.wedgwood.org

Arbor Circle  arborcircle.org

Recovery support  mirecovery.info

 Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous www.wm6aa.org/district_meeting.htm  

Thrive Ottawa County
The OSAP Northwest Quadrant Thriving Families Campaign is not part of Thrive Ottawa County, but is supportive of their work to educate the community on the impact of trauma and the need to build resilience. Building a Thriving Family is one element of building resilience for yourself and your children.