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ering woman at its heart, a family can brave those forces and emerge strong and undaunted. Strong, pur- poseful families create strong, pur- poseful communities and societies. Even in the midst of the harshest societal influences—war and pov- erty, intolerance and oppression, we can shape the attitudes and un- derstandings that our families have about those influences.

Are we

victims or actors? Even if we can- not change the circumstance, we can always choose what is in our hearts, and teach those in our fami- ly to have hearts of peace, progress and unity. The most stable element of a family, we women have the re- sponsibility to shape the family and thereby influence individuals, com- munities and nations.

For the power of a family to be felt in the social and emotional climate of our generation, the family must be strong and stalwart. Conscious and

With an unwavering woman at its heart, a family can brave those forces and emerge strong and undaunted.

continuous effort must be exerted to create a strong family. Principles such as spending time together in work and play, creating family tra- ditions or habits, forgiveness, gen- erosity and kindness must be ex- emplified and nurtured. As women, it often falls to us to create the cul- ture in our families that will magnify its strength. Exerting the energy to strengthen our families may seem especially challenging in the face of all the other work we do. It is im-

portant, though. It is essential. As social creatures we need to be part of something that is more than our- selves. If we, by inaction, allow the disintegrating forces of the world to tear apart our families the potential power of the family will be lost as well.

Strengthening our families is a choice we make moment by mo- ment and day by day. Family must be our priority, even in the face of the vast array of demands that be- set us daily. In spending the time to work together, to play together, to notice and appreciate each other, we are engaged in an essential ser- vice. We must slow down, some- times, to savor the moment or share the tears. We may consult together and create routines and traditions which bring individuals together in a shared purpose. In the fast- paced lifestyles so many of us live, it is hard to value an effort which produces no obvious or immediate outcome. The outcomes of families may take decades to be manifest, but they are made in the moment. We as women must empower our families by strengthening them. In creating a strong family, we offer protection from the chaotic forces of the world and a place where in- dividuals can be shaped and sup- ported.

The potential power of strong, pur- poseful families to support indi- viduals, communities and nations in reaching their goals and fulfilling their ideals is boundless. The fam- ily is the ideal environment for in- dividual growth and progress and is the perfect building block for strong, stable nations as well. In a stable family setting, we can nur- ture individual needs and attend


to and celebrate differences. The small, moment to moment support we offer those in our families may change the course of their lives and the destiny of nations. The intimacy and cohesiveness of a family adds to the meaningfulness of their inter- actions. What we do to support our families matters. When we create a consistent foundation of support, we are enabling greatness.

We live in a busy world and many of us have busy lives, full of work we find important. There is no work we can do, however, which will be more meaningful or have farther reaching consequences than the work we do in our families. It is in families that the lives of individuals are created and shaped. It is in families that the power to influence generations is harnessed. It is families that are the building blocks of society. Though there may be no good definition of what a family is in academia, we all know who we consider family. As women, and the cohesive bond in these often tentative groups of in- dividuals, we can and must work to shape, strengthen and support our families. The power of family is in its ability to influence and encour- age, shape and support, teach and try the individuals who make it up. As we dedicate ourselves to priori- tizing our families, we will find that not only have we empowered oth- ers, we have been empowered our- selves. ■

Julia Bernards’ background is in Family Life, both in education and experience. Writing about family life to share inspiration and ideas with other women is one of her primary passions.

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