By Jesús Martín, Research Intern and Wellbeing Ambassador
Humans are social beings. Since our birth until we reach an adequate level of development, we depend totally on others. This web of dependence and care can mostly take place in a structure widely known as the family; in all the different shapes and forms that families come in. Generally, a good family takes responsibility for subsistence, emotional nurture, protection and development of new members.
This is the sixth post in a series highlighting the best resources from each of the ten categories in our Wellbeing Database. The series has so far explored wellbeing in relation to the environment, education, food, economy and community. This post follows with a summary of the best resources relating to family wellbeing.
Family is central to wellbeing, not only in our early stages of life, but also during our youth, our adulthood and our old age. What is fairly clear from a variety of research is that high family wellbeing in younger years builds strong foundations for conviviality in the community and wider society. Therefore, many resources shared here focus on the important role of caring for children and young people.
There are many inspiring videos out there related to family wellbeing, and we have tried to include many of these in our Wellbeing Database. For example, “Family play, family wellbeing,” is a compelling video emphasising the vital role of making time for play. The video highlights that, “families who play together, stay together”. It also stresses other important elements for family wellbeing, such as belonging, warmth, care, deep love and deep commitment.
Of course even with all of the best intentions, all families can go through challenges at times. This video tells a personal story of the ruptured family fabric after a series of problems relating to employment, housing, addiction and depression. It shows how the Health and Wellbeing Boards, introduced in the UK in 2013, can be there to provide holistic support for people going through these kinds of challenges, commissioning a variety of services to respond to the highly complex nature of wellbeing.
Family connections remain an important factor from childhood to old age. A film that makes this point very powerfully is “Full of life,” which introduces a project focussing on the improvement of wellbeing and resilience for people aged 65 and over. Unfortunately, for this age group, isolation, anxiety or depression are common issues. However this video demonstrates best practices which can be used to tackle these issues.
Reports and Research
The following list is a selection of reports and research related to the wellbeing-related aspects of family-life: diversity, intergenerational connections, gender and many other aspects of family relationships.
- Parenting and wellbeing: knitting families together by the Young Foundation
- Mapping family change and child wellbeing outcomes by Child Trends
- Family wellbeing: Measuring what matters by NatCen
- How fathers and father figures can shape child health and wellbeing by The Fathering Project
- Backing the future: Why investing in children is good for us all by New Economics Foundation (nef)
- Kids need connections by Sue Roffey
- Promoting positive well-being for children by The Children’s Society
- The play return: A review of the wider impact of play initiatives by Tim Gill
- Natural Childhood by Stephen Moss
- The Global Youth Wellbeing Index by CSIS & International Youth Foundation
- Involving older age: the route to twenty-first century wellbeing by Royal Voluntary Service
The above reports and research will hopefully help you to learn more about different aspects of family wellbeing. This section introduces more practical resources, sharing tips on how we can engage actively in improving family wellbeing.
The Children’s Society share an interesting guide on “How to support your child’s wellbeing,” which is based on interviews with thousands of children about what makes them happy. The good news is that most of it is very straightforward! It’s about taking time to talk – and listen – to our children, showing them warmth, keeping them active and learning, letting them hang out with friends and exploring their local environment.
Investing in children is good for us all, and this is a point effectively highlighted in a research programme carried out by nef, called “Backing the future” (as mentioned above in the Reports and Research section). The following three guides were included as part of this programme:
- A guide to commissioning children’s services for better outcomes
- A guide to co-producing children’s services
- A guide to measuring children’s wellbeing
In terms of support for those at a later stage of life, Age UK shares an informative guide, titled, “Healthy living: maintaining a healthy body and mind.” This guide contains lots of useful general advice for the wellbeing of older people.
The Importance of Family Wellbeing
Reflecting on the resources presented in this post, it seems apparent that wellbeing in the family greatly influences wellbeing on both individual and collective levels. Families are a key element in communities, and if we want healthier societies we need to build good foundations at the family level. Furthermore, it is the children of today who will be leading society tomorrow, and therefore by teaching children of today we are influencing wider wellbeing in the future.