Somali Family Strength: Working in the Communities
Heitritter, D. Lynn
Minneapolis, MN: Family & Children's Services
June 1999, 12 pages
Provides insights into how Somali families newly arrived in the United States describe the characteristics of a stable family and how strong families can be supported in resettlement. This report is based on a study of the growing Somali population in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) of Minnesota, possibly the largest concentration of Somalis in the nation. Understanding the nature of family strength is important for service providers working with the local immigrant and refugee community because members of strong families are in a better position to form positive relationships and self-sustaining lives and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to meet their daily responsibilities. Among the key findings of the study were that (1) religious traditions underpinned values for promoting family unity; (2) a hierarchical family structure was considered essential for the stability underlying family strength; (3) notions of cooperation and responsibility supported social unity within the family; (4) peace, harmony, and health promoted psychological unity within the family, with health understood as the integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well being; (5) family strength was shaped and supported through families' acceptance within the local Somali community and religious brotherhood; and (6) shifts in social and financial resources posed challenges to family strength.