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Center on the Family Research Finds Hawaii Families are Strong Despite Increased Risks for Poor Outcomes

Research findings highlighted as state celebrates

University of Hawaiʻi
Ivette Stern, (808) 956-3844
UH Center on the Family - Hawaii Family Touchstones Project
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Nov 25, 2002

A recent study conducted by the University of Hawaiʻi Center on the Family has found that nearly one-third of Hawaiʻi‘s families practice the habits of strong, healthy families. Despite the changes in form and composition of today‘s families and the unique challenges faced particularly by Hawaiʻi families that put them at risk for poor outcomes, the study found that the value Hawaiʻi families hold for ʻohana and their community, and their great optimism despite economic struggle sustains their commitment to practicing strong and healthy family habits.

Previous research has identified six characteristics or habits that strong families across the world have in common:

Commitment — Members of strong families express commitment to each other, for example, by rearranging schedules to prioritize family time, keeping promises and remaining dependable.

Appreciation — Members of strong families show appreciation for one another, by expressing love and accentuating the positive in each family member.

Communication — They develop their communication skills and make time to talk to each other, whether about everyday matters or special issues.

Time together — They spend quality time together, such as having meals, doing recreational activities, and spending holidays and special occasions together.

Shared values and beliefs — They share values and beliefs, for example, by practicing religious and cultural rituals, extending themselves to others, and volunteering and caring for the community.

Coping with stress — Members of strong families cope with stress by pulling together to problem-solve and confront a crisis rather than denying a problem exists.

Market Trends Pacific, Inc. surveyed a representative sample of 1,051 of Hawaiʻi families throughout the state on behalf of the Center on the Family. The responses were used by Center on the Family researchers to assess whether or not Hawaiʻi families practice the behaviors of strong families.

Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents statewide said they practice all six behaviors of strong families, with even higher percentages found on the neighbor islands — 36 percent on the Big Island, 35 percent on Kauaʻi, and 35 percent on Maui. The study also shows, however, that even more families practice at least some of the six habits — 69 percent of the families surveyed said they practice five of the six behaviors regularly, and 87 percent indicated applying up to four of the six behaviors regularly.

"With an understanding of how the presence of these behaviors interacts to strengthen overall family functioning, researchers can begin to see how families can become strong, as fostering one or several of these behaviors can help develop others," said Ivette Stern of the UH Center on the Family. "Successful families have to work to be successful and they don‘t sail through life without challenges. It is through constant effort and cooperation that families nurture and develop their members and collectively grow strong, and as a society, we can enhance the potential of this foundational unity by supporting actions and policies that promote the behaviors that strengthen Hawaiʻi‘s families."

The study on Hawaiʻi‘s strong families was conducted as part of the Hawaiʻi Family Touchstones project. The Center on the Family developed Hawaiʻi Family Touchstones to monitor the well-being of families in the state. Relevant and measurable indicators are tracked over time to provide an overview of Hawaiʻi‘s families at a given point and in relation to the past. The complete study and its results will be released at the beginning of next year.

Last week, Governor Ben Cayetano signed a proclamation calling November 25-30, 2002, "Hawaiʻi Family Week." It is an opportunity to honor the importance of families and enhance public awareness of family related issues.

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