Quick Exit

When family members take time to be together whether it is part of a daily routine, planned activities, or just hanging out, they feel valued and connected. Sometimes, particularly in busy households, PSP families need to pause and think about what is important. Focusing on family values and making family life a priority can help families stay on track.

How do you let your family know that they are a top priority?

Things to consider…
  • Having a family conversation about the nature of the PSP family member’s work, why the job sometimes takes precedence over family time, and the various feelings that might result.
  • Making sure family members who are not able to attend activities are not left out (e.g., videotaping a school play so the family can replay it later).
  • Leaving notes or texts to let each other know you are thinking about each other when you can’t be together.
  • Telling family members that they are the most important people in your life (sometimes we neglect to say the words that express how we feel).
Do you want to know more about this?
meeting family requirements – planning leisure time

Families who live together in the same house spend time together, but it may not always feel like quality time. When family members make a choice to do things together, this creates an opportunity to build mutual trust and commitment. Consider the following exercise to connect and strengthen family relationships and demonstrate the importance of family.

This is a list of several types of activities (for couples or families with children). Each family member checks the type of activities they want to do more of in the next 6 months. Look for matches. Two or more family members must be involved in the activity and make a commitment to participate. Each family member commits to participating in one activity and can participate in more than one activity. Family members work together to determine what the activity will be, when, and how it will be done.

Start small and aim for success! Consider the time and resources that you have to commit to the activity that you choose. Making a special dessert might be more achievable than preparing a four-course meal, though that might be your end goal. Keep in mind the time that is needed for preparation before you actually start the activity (e.g., deciding on games you want to play, buying the games, understanding instructions).



Download: Planning leisure time

Core Family Values

Every family has values, but they may underestimate their importance. Determining core values can help families recognize what they stand for and what matters most to them as a family. These shared values can be used to guide how families deal with challenges, including managing negative public perceptions and opinions. PSP family members often share beliefs about the role that the PSP performs and the importance of their shared commitment. When clearly understood, shared values about this way of life strengthen families. They can reinforce that “we’re in this together,” encourage open communication, and guide action when faced with adversity.

The purpose of this exercise is to discuss and identify your core family values. You may want to revisit your values in 3 to 6 months to see if they hold true or if other ones are more accurate.

  • Play the Family Values Drag and Drop below. Each word represents a family value. Sort the piles of words according to what is “Very Important”, “Important”, or “Less Important” to your family. If values that are most important to your family are not listed, you will have a chance to add them when you pick your “TOP 15.”
  • Once you have sorted all of the piles, consider all the words in the “Very Important” column. Your next step is to decide what your “TOP 15” family values are.
  • The final task is to select your 5 most important family values from the “TOP 15.” These will represent your core family values. Reflect on the importance of these values for your family. What do you do to demonstrate these values? How do these values guide you when you are faced with challenges?

Negative messages from the community and social media can be hurtful. Both adults and children in PSP families can be targeted. When this happens, open communication can reduce the negative effects. Families who share core values may be less impacted by misinformation. For example, a family who values “gratitude” can focus on the positive feedback they get from their community rather than negative messages. A shared commitment and understanding can help take the sting out of public criticism.

Need Something More?

Check out our self-directed Spouse or Significant Other Wellbeing Course.

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References for this page (click to expand)

Carrico, C. P. (2012). A look inside firefighter families: A qualitative study. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. https://digscholarship.unco.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1088&context=dissertations

Carrington, J. L. (2006). Elements of and strategies for maintaining a police marriage: The lived perspectives of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and their spouses. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. https://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.itemid=NR18860&op=pdf&app=Library&is_thesis=1&oclc_number=289058279

Walsh, F. (2016). Strengthening family resilience (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.

Witman, J. P., & Munson, W. W. (1992). Leisure Awareness & Action: A Program to Enhance Family Effectiveness. Journal of physical education, recreation & dance,63(8), 41-43. https://doi.org/10.1080/07303084.1992.10609949