In a recent survey, 551 educators, church leaders, health-care professionals, psychological counselors, and group-leaders (Boy Scouts, etc.) chose 15 traits most important to healthy family life from a list of 56 possibilities drawn up by Curran and ""a few respected professionals"" in each field. The sensible aim was to provide criteria whereby families and family-oriented professionals could judge their performance. Predictably, votes went to such currently touted traits as listening and communicating, mutual trust and respect and support. But from her experience as a parenting columnist and workshop leader, Curran wisely and helpfully adds ""hallmarks"" that indicate the active presence of such patterns. Healthy communication, for example, springs from an ""unusual"" relationship between parents of equal power, rather than from the traditional dominant/submissive dichotomy. In such families, television does not replace family interaction but becomes part of it, with parents using story lines to initiate conversations about values. Interruptions at the dinner table (itself an important remnant of bygone family strengths) are actually to be prized--if all are interrupted equally. Some of the other high-rated traits--sharing time, respecting privacy, fostering responsibility, teaching morals and traditions--might seem somewhat anachronistic. But Curran is good at separating sentimental nostalgia from genuine values. (She's disappointed, for instance, that so many professionals felt the single-parent family had a much harder time being ""healthy."") Some will want to challenge the admittedly unscientific survey method, especially when it's used to draw hard-and-fast conclusions (e.g., children need one parent or surrogate parent continuously at home for the first two years). Others will simply enjoy the unhackneyed mix of old-style values and current insights.