Healthy Families 1.7: Encourage Functional Responsibility

Encourage Functional Responsibility

Today we’ll look at the eighth competency (out of 12) of healthy families: There is a keen awareness of what each person gets functionally from himself, and what he gets from others. (See previous posts for the first seven competencies.)

Healthy families practice a dynamic balance between individual independence and mutual interdependence. This balance factors in the developmental level and capacity of each individual, and expects each member to operate at the most optimum level possible for that person.

Three Areas of Functioning

Healthy families encourage all members to take responsibility for themselves in three areas of functioning: productivity, self-care and relationships.


Productivity refers to the work an individual performs. For partners, this refers to employment, parenting tasks, domestic work, educational pursuits, etc. For children, this refers to learning how to do life–participating to capacity in activities that prepare them for their own adult life: education, sports, music, taking care of personal belongings, managing time, etc.

As children grow older, healthy families help them take more and more responsibility for their own productivity while helping them manage the freedoms that accompany growing into adulthood.


Self-care refers to anything that relates to one’s health and personal well-being: medical, dental and vision care, exercise, diet, hobbies, personal and spiritual growth. Partners who allot adequate time for self-care teach their children the importance of including activities in their lives that enrich their experience of life and support their long-term happiness and welfare.


Relationships within the nuclear and extended family require intentional tending, and healthy families nurture these connections. It’s easy to allow ourselves to get so consumed with productivity, that we neglect self-care and relationships, which take time and effort to plan into our busy schedules. This is never clearer than when our health suffers or when we lose a loved one.

Healthy families recognize that personal happiness and well-being requires that individuals keep tabs on these three areas of functioning for themselves, according to their capacity and developmental level.

Personal Challenge

Is there something you need to do today to get these three areas of functioning in better alignment or balance? Is one or more area suffering due to over-functioning  or under-functioning in other areas? How are your relationships impacted by this? Your own well-being? Those for whom you have some responsibility?

Tomorrow we’ll look at the ninth competency of healthy families: Each person is allowed to have his or her own emptiness. There is no attempt made to fill it up.




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