Presented at Senior Official Forum on Families, Nusa Dua, Bali September 3-5, 2007
THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES ON
By : Euis Sunarti 
A. Changing Families in a Changing World
Family and community structures adapt to the physical and social conditions of production (Wenke 1984, referred by Zeitlin, et al., 1995). Now, families live in turbulent time, on the edge of uncertainty and move into uncharted territory. Family life and the world around us have changed so dramatically in recent years that while we yearn for strong and enduring relationships, we are unsure how to shape and sustain them to weather the storms of life. Although some families are shattered by crisis or persistent stresses, what is remarkable is that others emerge strengthened and more resourceful (Walsh, 2006).
There is a powerful interplay between a society’s technology, family structure, and social values all along time, with the result known as pre-modern families, modern families, and post modern families. Technology and industrialization, and also globalization forces driving family transition. With the growth of specialized wage labor, economically productive work moved beyond the reach of the family compound. individualized remuneration and liability led to a redefinition of kinship obligations. Where neighbors were strangers, the modern family became a “haven in a heartless world” (Lasch 1977). Even without significant industrial growth, the expansion of global markets, the mass media, the civil service, and other services such as health care, education, and transportation led to the formation of modern families in developing countries.
Another challenges faced by families is the post modern period, described as one in which the economy would shift employment from heavy industry to non-unionized clerical, service, and new industrial sectors. The rise of multinational corporations, trouble in the social welfare system, and decline in human freedom and choice are part of post modern period (C. Wright Mills , 1959 referred by Zeitlin et al., 1995). Indeed as stated Stacey (1990), the post modern is characterized by uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt. Question raised is how the human family would respond to an adjust to this new period in world history.
The other emerging family forms is known as “the saturated family”, whose members feel their lives scattering in intensified busyness. In addition to absorbing exposure to myriad values, attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, and personalities, family members have become embedded in a multiplicity of relationships. The technologies of social saturation (e.g. the car, telephone, television, etc) have created family turmoil a sense of fragmentation, chaos, and discontinuity (Gergen, 1991 referred by Zeitlin, 1995).
Basically, national development designed for family and community well-being, in fact it could evoke a negative effect on families. Zeitlin. et al., (1995) analyzed the negative effect of development on the family and society are ;1) commodification of family life, 2) promotion of self-centered consumerism, 3) reduction in altruism, 4) negative outcomes for poor families, 5) feminization of poverty. World Development Report 2003 stated that within 50 years, there is twofold families live at fragile region, where families face advance challenges relating to 1) limitation or damaged of natural resources, 2) un-properly policy and programs in production technology development and its added value, 3) poor quality of infrastructure (transportation, communication, energy) and basic public services (education, health, finance-investment), 4) isolated socio-cultural (power, voice, land-right, tenure) and limitation local economic opportunity (agriculture, off-farm, job opportunity in urban area.
Socio economic and also environment changes forces lead to changes in family dynamics. Now. Families facing the future with cultural diversity and socioeconomic diversity. Family life changes is connected with problems and challenges faced by family. Almost all development strategies now recognize the problems confronted by families. Generally, the problems faced by families in developing countries are poverty, low levels of education, poor health and nutrition, inadequate housing and sanitation.
B. The Emerging Theory of Family Resilience
1. The nature of family resilience
Increasing interest on families along with increasing awareness that family is the basic unit of society, determining societal health ( Thomas & Wilcox in Sussman & Steinmetz, 1987) and quality of human resources (Berns, 1997). Many of societal health problems connected with individual and family life. Thus family as a science emerge and develop as an implementation of sociology on family. Family theory develop since 1900’s such as structural functional, social conflict, symbolic interaction, and social exchange (Boss, et al., 1993; Winton, 1995; Klein & White, 1996; Farrington & Chertok in Boss et al., 1993)
Families are groups related kinship, residence, or close emotional attachments and display four systemic features – intimate interdependence, selective boundary maintenance, ability to adapt to change and maintain their identity over time, and performance of the family tasks (Mattessich and Hill, 1987 referred Zeitlin et al., 1995). That’s why the performance of family vary according regions, ethnic, socio-economic status, even within family by life cycle. From psychological perspective, family is defined as two or more persons who share resources, share responsibilities for decisions, share values and goals, and have commitment to one another over time.
The tasks performed by families include physical maintenance, socialization and education, control of social and sexual behavior maintenance of family morale and of motivation to perform roles inside and outside the family, the acquisition of mature family members by the formation of sexual partnerships, the acquisition of new family members through procreation or adoption, and launching of juvenile members from the family when mature (Mattessich and Hill, 1987). Family has important task for maintaining, surviving, and sustaining the larger social system.
Although realizing that is wide range variation of family performance, but it is always emerge interesting questions: “why is that some families, when faced with serious stresses & challenges to their wellbeing manage to cope well, while other families facing similar circumstances do not ?” why is that some families could be breakdown easily, when some families still survive, even stronger and resourceful ? This interesting issue leads to elaborate the family resilience as the family ability to withstand and rebound from adversity. This family resilience has become an important concept in mental health theory and research over past 2 decades (Walsh, 2002.).
Early studies on family resilience is started with studies on individual resilience as personal traits associated with resilience or hardiness, reflecting the dominant culture and ethos of the rugged individual. Rutter (1987 & 1990) in Kumpfer & Alvarado, (1998) define individual resilience as the positive end of the distribution of developmental outcomes among individuals at high risk. Family resilience is a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity. The key idea of resilience is that of successful engagement with risk (Luthar, S.S., Dante Cicchetti, and Bronwyn Becker, 2000). Another definition of family resilience is the ability of a family to respond positively to an adverse situation and emerge from the situation feeling strengthened, more resourceful, and more confident than its prior state (Simon, J.B., John J. Murphy, and Shelia M. Smith. 2005). According to those definition, many research had been done on family at high risk, such as family with child disability, family with member with serious illness, family with financial strain and job-loss, etc. Studies on family with child disability defined family resilience as the capacity of the family to nurture and sustain to care of the child with a disability (Department of Human Services, Victoria 1998).
Walsh (2002), defined that resilience is an active process of endurance self-righting and growth in response to crisis and challenge; and also the ability to overcome the blows of outrageous fortune challenges our culture’s conventional wisdom; that early or severe trauma can’t be underdone. Resilience is the capacity to rebound from adversity, strengthened and more resourceful. Thus, resiliency is composed of two parts, protective factors and recovery factors (McCubbin, et al., 1997 in Walsh, 2002). Protective factors are the on going development of family strength so that members are ready when change, challenge, or conflict arises. Protective factors help a family develop flexibility and adaptability. Important family protective factors include family hardiness, family time and routine, valuing family time and routines, family celebration and tradition. Recovery factors are especially beneficial in events like coping with a serious illness, an untimely death, the loss of primary job, or a social and natural disaster. Family togetherness and a sense that each member is equally important, family and community support, esteem building, participating in family recreation, optimism about life’s situations, and a sense of control help families cope and recover. That’s why the characteristic of resilient families are: commitment, cohesion, adaptability, communication, spirituality, connectedness, and resource management. Meanwhile Kumpfer & Alvarado (1998) elaborate the relationship between family protective mechanism and resilience factors for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, and the need for effective prevention programs by strengthening the families.
The concept of family resilience is challenges and crisis. Family resilience concept emerge from specific family situation such as : clinical intervention and prevention efforts with vulnerable families, families with child’s disability, families with serious illness, families with financial strain and job-loss. Family resilience related to vulnerable families, and or troubled families. That’s why, key words in line with resilience are : family life event and changes. Challenges, conflict, stress, crisis, recovery, trauma, therapy, strengthening family and family functioning.
The earliest conceptual foundations for research to examine the variability in family pre-crisis adjustment response was the Hill (1949, 1958) ABCX family crisis model and McCubbin and Patterson’s Double ABCX Model (McCubbin and Patterson, 1981, 1983). Family crisis emerge when stress in family couldn’t overcome due to limitation of resources and coping behavior. Their formulations focused upon the stressor, the family’s resistance resources, and the family’s appraisal of the stressor event. Recent investigations have encouraged us to expand upon these formulations and introduce the T-Double ABCX Model with the inclusion of family types and levels of vulnerability.
A stressor is defined as a life event, or transition (e.g., death, purchase of home, parenthood, etc.) impacting upon or within the family unit which produces, or has the potential of producing, change in the family social system. This change may be in various areas of family life, such as the health status of one of its members, its boundaries, goals, patterns of interaction, or values. The severity of a stressor or transition is determined by the degree to which the event or transition threatens or disrupts the family’s stability, or places demands on the family’s resources or capabilities, the results of which could also threaten the family’s stability (Comeau, 1985; McCubbin, 1986 in McCubbin & Thompson, 1987).
Family stress theory can be applied to critical work events that negatively affect the family, such as job loss, and to chronic work stressors such as job dissatisfaction instability, shift work, inadequate child care, and role overload (piotrkowski and Kattz 1983 referred Zeitlin., et al., 1995). Other sources of family stress are death, divorce, separation, illness, and social dysfunction (Holmes & Rahe 1967 referred by Zeitlin et al., 1995). Stress theory (Boss, 1987 in Sussman & Steinmetz, 1987) studies the phenomenon of family coping, which is the management of a stressful event by the family as a group and by each individual in the family. Coping refers to efforts or master conditions of harms, threat or challenge when a routine or automatic response is not readily available (Monat & Lazarus, 1977). Coping is a process involving the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses of the family as a collective. Boss (1987) concludes that the main determinant of why some families cope while others fall into crisis is the meaning that the event holds for the family and the individuals within it. The extent to which constructive interpretations result in adequate coping depend on the degree of support provided by the internal and external contexts. Werner (1993), referred Walsh (2000) noted that as individual resilience traits, the core component in effective coping is feeling of confidence that the odds can be surmounted.
Research on family transition, crises, and adaptation, using T-Double ABCX Model of family adjustment and adaptation has been based on fundamental assumptions about family life. This fundamental assumption picture the nature of family resilience., I e., 1) families face hardships and changes as a natural and predictable aspect of family life over the life cycle, 2) families develop basic strengths and capabilities designed to foster the growth and development of family members and the family unit and to protect the family from major disruptions in the face of family transitions and changes, 3) families develop basic and unique strengths and capabilities designed to protect the family from unexpected or non-normative stressors and strains and to foster the family’s adaptation following a family crisis or major transition and change, and 4) families benefit from and contribute to the network of relationships and resources in the community, particularly during periods of family stress and crises (McCubbin & Thompson, 1997).
2. Framework of Family Resilience
Family resilience framework is conceptual map to guide prevention and intervention efforts to support and strengthen vulnerable families in crisis. It focus on strengthening family functioning in the context of adversity. A family resilience framework provide innovative and practice of applications. Advantages of family resilience framework is provided a comprehensive interventions in family focused programs. Research have found increasing evidence that the same adversity can result in different outcomes. For example: although many lives are shattered by childhood trauma, others emerge from similar high-risk conditions able to live and love well, evident in the finding that most abused children do not become abusive parents (Kaufman & Ziegler, 1987 referred by Walsh, Froma., 2002). Resilience come to be viewed in terms of an interplay of risk and protective processes over time, involving individual, family, and larger socio-cultural influence (Garmezy, 1991; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1980; Werner, 1993). Resilience is exercised when family members demonstrate behaviors such as confidence, hard work, cooperation and forgiveness. These are factors that help families withstand stressors throughout the family life cycle (www.extensioninfonet.org).
A family resilience approach builds on developments to strengthen family capacities to master adversity, and to encourage the key processes for resilience. Several basic principles grounded in system theory serve as the foundations for a family resilience approach. Basic principle of family resilience are : 1) individual resilience is best understood and fostered in the context of the family and larger social world, as a mutual interaction of individual, family, socio-cultural, and institutional influences; 2) crisis events and persistent stresses affect the entire family and all its members, posing risks not only for individual dysfunction, but also for relational conflict and family breakdown; 3) family processes mediate the impact of stress for all members and their relationship and can influence the course of many crisis events; 4) protective process foster resilience by buffering stress and facilitating adaptation; 5) maladaptive responses heighten vulnerability and risk for individual and relationship distress; 6) all individuals and families have the potential for greater resilience; families have the potential to recover and grow from adversity; 7) Family’s potential could be maximized by encouraging their best efforts and strengthening key processes.
A Family resilience approach builds on developments to strengthen family capacities to master adversity (Walsh, 1996). A family resilience approach to clinical practice is grounded in family systems theory, combining ecological and developmental perspectives to view the family as an open system that functions in relation to its broader socio-cultural context and evolves over the multigenerational life cycle (Carter & McGoldrick, 1998; Falicov, 1995, referred by Walsh, 2000). This approach is guided by a bio-psycho-social systems orientation, viewing problems and their solution in light of multiple recursive influences involving individuals, families, and larger social systems.
The field of family therapy has refocused attention from family deficits to family strength. A family resilience perspective fundamentally alters that deficit-based lens from viewing troubled families as damaged and beyond repair to seeing them as challenged by life’s adversities. Rather than rescuing so-called “survivors” from dysfunctional families, this approach engages distressed families with respect and compassion for their struggles, affirms their reparative potential, and seeks to bring out their best. Effort to foster family resilience aim both to avoid or reduce pathology and dysfunction and to enhance functioning and well-being (Luthar et al., 2000).
A family resilience framework is informed by research and social sciences and clinical practice seeking understand crucial variables contributing to individual resilience and well-functioning families (Walsh, 1996, 1998, in Walsh, 2000). The framework draws together findings from numerous studies, identifying and synthesizing key processes within three domains of family functioning : family belief systems, organizational patterns, and communication processes for facilitating family functioning. Belief system sees as the heart and soul of resilience, that’s why important to elaborate how shared beliefs develop and evolve and how to organize our belief system. Shared beliefs shape and reinforce interactional patterns governing how a family approaches and responds to adversity (Reiss, 1981 referred Walsh, 2000). In family organization, resilience can be fostered through flexible structure, shared leadership, mutual support, and teamwork in facing challenges. Communication processes that clarify ambiguous situations, encourage open emotional expression and empathetic response, and foster collaborative problem solving are especially important in facilitating resilience. Similar with the key processes, Mackay (wt) elaborate aspects of family resilience, i e.,: 1) family cohesion; the core idea is emotional connectedness associated with higher levels of well-being; 2) family belief systems as making meaning out of adversity by maintaining a positive outlook; 3) the role of religion to promotes marital happiness, adjustment reduces conflict, and domestic violence; and 4) communication as process of meaning-making important to collaborative decision making.
3. The Construct of Resilience Theory: A Critical Evaluation
A critical evaluation of the construct of resilience theory emerge along with empirical research on individual resilience in recent years. Criticism have been levied at work in this area, generally focused on: 1) ambiguities in definitions and terminology, 2) variations in inter-domain functioning and risk experiences among ostensibly resilient children, 3) instability in the phenomenon of resilience, and 4) theoretical concerns, including questions about the utility of resilience as a scientific construct. Theoretical concerns of individual resilience based on progress in the area of resilience that will remain seriously constrained as long as studies remain largely empirically driven as opposed to theoretically based, with little conceptual recognition of the importance of multiple contexts in children’s development. The other concern is the notion of resilience adds nothing to the more general term “positive adjustment” and argue that the focus on resilience does not augment developmental theory.
In line with criticism of resilience, scientific concerns focused on several aspects of family resilience theory. First, there is variations in definitions and use of terminology. The theoretical and research literature on resilience reflect little consensus about definitions, with substantial variations in operationalization and measurement of key construct. Second, there is discrepancies which also exist in conceptualizations of resilience as a personal and family trait versus a dynamic process. Researchers use the term interchangeably to refer to each these. Third, there is also little consensus around terms used within models of resilience. Researchers use terms such as “protective” or “vulnerability” factors in varied and inconsistent ways.
4. Case study : Indonesian family resilience in disaster condition
Recently, many empirical evidence on family challenges, crisis and resilience experiencing Indonesian family due to social conflict and natural disaster in Indonesia, such as :
- Aceh riot take place since 1967 when significant separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh has led to armed conflict and allegations of human rights abuses. Following a long standing guerrilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005. This riot evoke 1321 death, 1985 lost people,. 15 mass burial plot estimated filled with 1240 skeleton body, more than 3430 people abuse, and more than 200 women experienced sexual harassment. This phenomena evoke huge refuge, especially for Javanese people. One of refuge relocation placed at Brebes district, province of central java. Study on Family Strength: Family Stress Management and Accomplishment of The Economic and Socialization Function of Refugees Family of Aceh Conflict (Sunarti, et al., 2005) shows that Aceh conflict evoke sharp decreasing of family prosperity and family functional. Family reorientation is important factor in family strength after relocation. More than half of samples have high stress level. The increase of illness and family care strains, the decrease of mother’s self esteem. The lost of family members and family support have a significant effect on mother’s stress level. This results imply that, family support -can be acquire from extended family, social environment, and government- is the important factor for decreasing mother’s stress level. By using regression analysis shows that: family strength, family changes, and coping strategy influence the accomplishment of economic and socialization function of the family.
- Ethnic Conflict at 1999 between Dayak and Madurese known as Sambas riot evoked huge refugee of Madurese. The riot had influenced a sharp decreasing of family economic function and led to family financial strain. Family conducted coping behavior with several alternatives and survival strategy. Family needs social support to recover and rebound from crises (Polan, 2002; Dewi, R.S., 2002). Research on influence of economic pressure on marital quality and family functioning shows that economic hardship and economic pressure influence marital conflict; the higher of the economic pressure leads to the lessen of the husband’s support, the worse of wife’s depressed mood, and the lower family functioning on child education and socialization (Sunarti, et al., 2005).
- Indonesia has been extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, and will always be. In Indonesia various natural disasters have happened in a frequent state and located randomly in all over the regions in the country. It is located on the ring of fire, and as such prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as to tsunamis caused by seismic activity. This poses questions whether family are now being exposed to higher vulnerability and risk. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake was an undersea earthquake generated a tsunami that was among the deadliest disasters in modern history, killing well over 240,000 people. On the 27th of May, 2006, a very strong earthquake of 5.9 SR shaking the Province of the Special Region of Yogyakarta and Central Java has destroyed not only houses but also has killed around 6,000 people. There were more than 88,000 and 98,000 houses that were totally damaged and seriously broken respectively. Meanwhile until march 2007, Mud Volcano Lapindo had destroyed settlement, when more than 23.000 family lost their house.
- Earthquake and tsunami disaster attacked Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province and North Sumatera in the end of December 2004 caused great number of huge human victims, the paralyzed of basic services, basic infra structure dysfunction, as well as the destroy of social and economic system. Studies on the coping strategies of families after earthquake and tsunami disaster in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province (Maryam, et al., 2007) showed that family had a high stress level due to loss (death of spouse/child/family member, asset, and job) and family’s problems. Families carried out both of coping strategy i e., coping problem-based (behavior to overcome stress, planning and seeking social support) and coping emotion-based (positive reappraisal, self esteem & maturity, acceptance, and religious behavior). After six months of disaster, the stress level of families by using Holmes and Rahe method showed families belonged to moderate stress. Family’s problem-focused coping influenced family’s instrumental as well as family’s expressive functions, meanwhile emotion-focused coping only influenced family’s expressive functions. Stress level and also social support influenced family’s problem-focused coping and family’s emotion-focused coping.
These phenomena need support and family intervention in appropriate way to monumental task of rebuilding lives and livelihoods for the social conflict and natural disaster survivors. The rehabilitation activities is not only address concerns related to housing reconstruction, livelihood, health, education, sanitation and assured drinking water, but also rebuild family resilience and family strength.
5. Future Research Direction
Throughout the 21st century, individuals and families will be characterized by increased diversity, which could be experienced as stressful, depressed mood, even crisis situation. Because of those challenges, individual and family resilience will become increasingly important. The family resilience is a topic that demands a blending and synthesis of methods. That’s why it is important to elaborate a model for measuring family resilience
Family research must be rebalanced from focus on how families fail to how families can succeed if the field is to move beyond the rhetoric of promoting family strengths to facilitate key processes in intervention and prevention efforts. Both qualitative and quantitative research contributions are useful in informing such approaches and in systematically evaluating their effectiveness. As Werner, a leading pioneer in resilience research, has recently affirmed, resilience research offers a promising knowledge base for practice; the findings of resilience research have many potential applications, and the building of bridges between clinicians, researchers, and policy makers is of utmost importance (Werner & Johnson, 1999).
Mackay (refer from Luthar et al., 2000) summarized the concept of family resilience. The concept are : 1) origins in studies of individual resilience, 2) family resilience is an emerging concept, 3) family resilience theory is still developing, 4) empirical evidence still sparse, 5) there is subject to a number of critiques, 6) focus on family strengths, 7) it is not static but dynamic concept, 8) it is not a categorical state but a continuum, 9) contingent and depends on circumstances. Meanwhile Luthar et al., (2000) noted several criticism of family resilience concept and theory. Several criticism are : 1) clarity and consistency in the use of definition and terminology, 2) cognizance of the multidimensional nature of resilience, 3) attention to issue of stability and conceptual coherence, 4) theoretical consideration, 5) exploration of processes underlying protective / vulnerability factors, 6) the importance of integrative, multidisciplinary research. Future research directions could be lifted from extant criticism of concept and theory of family resilience.
According family resilience as interactive process over time, it is important to identify indicator and key processes that can strengthen family’s ability to overcome the challenges they face, and to comprehend processes for resilience, where families become more resourceful in dealing with unforeseen problems and averting crises. Thus, in strengthening family resilience, every intervention is also a preventive measure.
C. Policy and Programs for Improving Family Resilience
As stated by the Agency for International Development (AID) in 1990, many development programs have been designed and their impact measured with emphasis either on individual level or on the regional / national level. Yet until recently, in the design of development policies and programs, families have remained and invisible layer sandwiched between individual and the community. According to the United Nations (1987), the emphasis in development activities is almost always on individuals and only rarely on families as units. Policies and programs have been focused on individuals who comprise the family –children, mothers, the young, the ageing- whose interests and needs are related, but not identical, to those of the family. Family intervention programs which focused on resilience-oriented services, foster family empowerment as they bring forth shared hope, develop new and renewed competencies, and build mutual support and collaborative efforts among family members.
Family resilience or family strength programs should be long term; short term interventions with families at high risk or in crisis are only bandages on family dysfunction. They do not result in functional changes within the family that allow long term solutions rather than temporary reductions of external symptoms. Family programs that produce changes in ongoing family dynamics and environment are the most effective in the long term. Sufficient program length and intensity are critical for effectiveness. The needier the family in terms of the number of risk factors or processes, the more time is needed to modify those dysfunctional processes. Time must be allotted for developing trust, determining the family’s needs, providing or locating support services for basic needs, and comprehensively addressing deficit areas.
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 Presented at Senior Official Forum on Families, Nusa Dua, Bali September 3-5, 2007
 Faculty of Human Ecology, Bogor Agricultural University.