Humans are genetically programmed to form kinship bonds through which we learn the lessons of love, caring, and attachment. The family is the classroom in which this learning occurs.
The healing power of family comes from several sources: the feeling of being loved and cared for; the experience of being valued and esteemed; the sense of belonging to a clan with responsibilities and obligations to one another. Nurturing and supportive relationships in families act as a buffer against stress and help prevent physical and emotional illness. Members of strong families enjoy many health benefits, including the following (Ornish 1998; Rowe & Kahn 1998):
• recover more quickly from surgery and follow medical instructions better,
• manage chronic illness better (e.g., children in healthy families manage
• are less likely to develop heart disease and more likely to survive a heart attack,
• are better able to handle unemployment,
• do better in stressful situations, including the death of a loved one,
• live longer than people in unhealthy or weaker families, and
• experience less stress from hospital procedures when parents are present with
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