Communication Family Restorative Justice Solution-Focused

Restorative justice & stories for resilient families and happy individuals


Bruce Feiler’s March 17, 2013 New York Times article about happy families and how they influence individual family member’s health and happiness, supports our restorative justice and solution focused work

Feiler discusses how one night he pondered: “What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?” and went on to learn what he could to answer these questions.

His research led him to the work of psychologists Marshall Duke and Sara Fivush, which showed: “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”

The restorative reentry circles we do, with incarcerated people and their reentry planning, which is based on reconciliation with their loved ones as well as most solution focused and restorative processes people participate in, gives families the opportunity to tell the stories about healing.

Being transparent and open about our struggles with our loved ones is strength building. Sharing our understanding that we will not always get what we want in life, and that we all will naturally change and eventually be leaving this world, is a great gift we can give our children and our families. It does not have to be a grim and hopeless message and story either.

Restorative justice, solution focused and other approaches that look at hardship as something we can discuss and find ways to cope with help us find happier lives.

While some people believe that most incarcerated people come from severely “dysfunctional” families, that is only one story, and one that many others tell themselves (in fact it was this possible story that motivated Feiler himself to research the question and write the article). Our experience with incarcerated and other people involved both as defendants and victims in criminal cases, shows one main similarity between many of the people: they are poor economically. Poverty, however, does not mean dysfunctional. We have had the honor of witnessing countless families and individuals that are resilient and strong despite being poor financially and having had some involvement with the justice system.

Thanks for great work Mr. Feiler, et al!

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