Write briefly in response to the following, using your text and one other reference (preferably from the APUS online library) and citing both in APA format. Your paper should be 1200 – 1500 words long, with no more than 50 words as direct quotes from a source. Remember, the cover page and the reference page do not count as part of the word requirements.
Write a script for a conversation among 3 family members that illustrated a dysfunctional cross-generational coalition. The script should be 1/3 to 1/2 of your paper. Use the remainder of your paper to analyze the script, using relevant concepts and constructs from the text and whatever other article that you find.
The paper addresses the issues specified by the assignment
The author shows insight and sophistication in thinking and writing
Two academic citations were used
Paper was well organized and easy to follow. Paper was the required length. Cover page, paper body, citations and Reference list were in the American Psychological Association format.
Few to no spelling, grammar, punctuation or other writing structure errors
- The Family as a System
- What Is a Family?
- Traits if Family Systems
- Structural Properties of Families
- Essential Family Tasks
- First-order Tasks
- Politics of the Family
- Family Strategies
- Identity Strategies
In this course, you’ll learn about the different ways families interact, both with children and without children. Some are the traditional family made up of two married parents and their children, but there are several different and varied family types. These include single-parent families, stepfamilies, and same-sex couples and families.
Regardless of the type of family, all families must complete some family tasks and develop the skills and foundations necessary to complete those tasks. These common tasks are essential to the function of every family. However, the ways they are completed are unique to each family.
In this lesson, you will learn to understand how the family functions as a system, as you develop an understanding of family systems theory. You’ll learn about family tasks, and the strategies different families employ to complete those tasks. Topics covered include:
- Defining the Family
- Family Systems
- Family Tasks
- Family Strategies
The Family as a System
Family systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen, states that the individual cannot be understood outside of the context of the family. The family is a single, functional emotional unit, and all parts impact and change one another. All types of families, both traditional and non-traditional, function as systems.
COMPONENTS OF A FAMILY SYSTEM
What is a Family?
Families today, sometimes called the postmodern family, including traditional families, families with two working parents, single-parent families, divorced and remarried families, families formed through adoption, and families based on domestic partnerships. There are even families based on long-term, platonic relationships.
Today, only 24 percent of families are made up of a married couple with their shared biological children. Some 26 percent of families with children are headed by a single parent.
“In an expanded look at the structure of the American family the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2007, of the nearly 74 million children under the age of eighteen living in the United States, 67.8 percent lived with married parents, 2.9 percent with two unmarried parents, 25.8 percent with one parent, and 3.5 percent with no parent present”
(Anderson, Stephen, & Sabatelli, p.4).
As of 2006, more than 60 percent of women worked outside the home, and divorce rates have increased significantly. Around 40 percent of people will go through a divorce in their lifetimes. Divorce is correlated with many concerning factors, particularly for children. These include economic instability and poorer educational outcomes.
Several key struggles plague families today. These include child abuse and neglect, as well as intimate partner violence. These problems are more prevalent than many people expect or believe and are often not reported. Lack of reporting of intimate partner violence and child abuse has an ongoing and detrimental impact on families today.
Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of family systems theory?
Families are part of a microsystem, mesosystem, and microsystem.
A family is a complex structure made up of individuals with a shared history, bonding, and goals.
Families have boundaries, both internal and external.
Families use strategies to accomplish tasks and meet needs.
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Traits of Family Systems
To understand the family in the context of family systems, “the family can be defined as a complex structure comprised of an interdependent group of individuals who (1) have a shared sense of history; (2) experience some degree of emotional bonding; and (3) devise strategies for meeting the needs of individual family members and the group as a whole” (Anderson & Sabatelli, 2010, p. 6). The family system is defined by two parts.
COMPOSITION AND ORGANIZATION
In a family system, the most important factor is how the different parts of the system relate to one another. For a traditional family, this might mean the marital relationship between mom and dad, relationships between parents and children, and relationships between siblings. These all matter more than who the individuals in the family are, or how you might define the individuals in the family.
For instance, consider a two-parent family. Mom and Dad are married to one another and both are employed. They have three children, ages two, four and six. Imagine their daily life for a moment. Now, consider how your perceptions change if you’re told that Mom is a neurosurgeon. Dad works part-time from home. Does their daily life look different than you assumed when you first thought about it?
You probably imagined that either the couple shared parenting and home tasks equally, or that Mom carried more of those tasks than Dad. When told that Mom works an intense job, and Dad has changed his work schedule to accommodate the children’s needs, your image of this family changes. When you only knew the composition of the family, you had a poor understanding of how it functioned. When you learned about the rules that governed the family and recognized that the distribution of responsibilities was not what you expected, your understanding of the family changed.
Structural Properties of Families
Families are characterized by several distinct structural properties. The structure of a family includes both its composition, or members, and its organization, or rules. In the example above, you realized how the organization of a family could change or alter what you expect of the family.
While the structure is made up of composition and organization, family structures are characterized by a number of distinct properties.
STRATEGIES AND RULES
Essential Family Tasks
Every family system must accomplish a range of different tasks. The rules in the family facilitate these tasks or enable them to be executed. Tasks vary widely. Keeping the home clean is a task, but so is socializing the children. Some tasks are shared by all families, known as first-order tasks. They exist regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Other tasks are more specific to individual families and family cultures and are known as second-order tasks. To execute tasks, families must be prepared to adapt their strategies over time. Families with higher levels of adaptability will more effectively be able to manage stress and change.
In this section, you will learn about each of the tasks. The strategies to complete or execute these tasks will be discussed in significant detail later in this lesson.
There are several different types of first-order tasks. As mentioned above, first-order tasks are tasks that must be executed by all families. These include identity tasks, boundary tasks, maintenance tasks, and tasks associated with managing the emotional needs of the family.
- IDENTITY TASKS
- BOUNDARY TASKS
- MAINTENANCE TASKS
- MANAGING FAMILY EMOTIONS
Identity tasks develop an identity for the family and the individual. There are three different and interrelated identity tasks essential for every family system. These are:
Constructing family themes. These themes become organizing principles for family life.
Socializing family members in biological and social issues. This includes gender roles.
Establishing a congruence of images of the family members. These impact the self-image of the individual.
While not a positive part of the identity tasks associated with family systems, some families may also establish family myths. Family myths are identity tasks that don’t match the image presented or interactions with the outside world.
Second Order Tasks
Second-order tasks are responses to stress or changes in the family system. The family system has to adjust and shift to adapt to both internal changes and external changes. Changes that trigger second-order tasks, like adaptability can be positive, negative or neutral. Examples of triggers for change, or for second-order tasks could include developmental changes in children, the birth of a child, death or divorce.
ADAPTABILITY AND MANAGING FAMILY STRESS
- AdaptabilityAdapting to change in the family is the fundamental purpose of second-order tasks. Openness and responses to stress are essential to adaptability. Openness means that the family system adjusts based on external input and changes. Stressors can vary widely and may be internal or external. Changes in the family stress the strategies in place to execute tasks, and the strategies have to change to accommodate the changes in the family system.
Politics of the Family
When you think of the family, you likely think in private terms. You may think that the family largely impacts individuals, rather than society. While a common assumption, in fact, the stability of the family, and even the definition of the family, is also of significant importance to society at large. The government is involved in families in a variety of different ways, so there are clear political interests in the family.
- You’ve already learned about the definition of a family for family systems theory. This is, “a family exists whenever a group of individuals regularly interact with one another over time, experience some degree of emotional bonding, share a common history and legacy and together devise strategies for the accomplishment of family goals and tasks” (Anderson, Stephen, & Sabatelli, p.16). Most of the time, families are formed through blood or marriage, but they don’t have to be—they can be formed through domestic partnerships or even very close friendships.
All families must develop strategies to execute tasks, and all families must execute similar tasks. There are three distinct and interdependent aspects of the family system. These include the composition of the family, the tasks associated with the function of the family, and the strategies essential to accomplish those tasks.
THE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
HISTORICAL FAMILY OF ORIGIN SOCIAL IDEAS AND CONSTRAINTS
- IDENTITY STRATEGIES
- FAMILY THEMES
Identity strategies are family themes that let the family define itself, both internally and externally. Family themes are purposefully chosen. Sometimes, traits people identify as cultural are part of these family themes. For instance, if asked what you think of an Italian family, you might picture boisterous family meals, close relationships, and shared religion. Family themes can be positive or negative, shared by the family of origin of one or both parents in the family.
Family strategies are often based on these family themes. In this case, the themes may support positive behaviors or may repeat negative behaviors. Identity strategies can impact how members of the family see themselves and how those outside the family perceive the family.
Choose the answer that describes an identity strategy.
A couple chooses to dress their infant and toddler in gender-neutral clothing.
A married couple has two children and adjusts to childcare.
In a single parent family, the children have more chores than in a two-parent family.
A couple shares chores evenly in the household.
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There are two different types of boundary strategies: external boundaries and internal boundaries. External boundaries define the family in relation to others outside of the family. Internal boundaries exist within the family, between different individuals or subsystems.
- EXTERNAL BOUNDARIES
- INTERNAL BOUNDARIES
External boundaries divide and define what is inside the family from what is outside of the family. These boundaries can be quite varied. External boundaries may exist between the family and people who are not family, but also between the immediate and extended family.
In some cases, external boundaries take a physical form or are represented by a physical form. Imagine inviting a new acquaintance into your home. You probably sit in the living room or dining room, and you don’t invite them into your bedroom or other private spaces. This is an external boundary. Your best friend, who you think of as family, on the other hand, would follow you into your bedroom without a second thought.
These boundaries can also be set out in how physical spaces are defined. Think about two different neighborhoods. In the first, neighbors often sit out on each other’s porches, visit with one another, and have open yards. Children run from one house to the other in different yards. In the second, each house has a large privacy fence. Some homes even have fenced front yards. All the houses have alarm systems, and people rarely visit with one another. In the second neighborhood, external boundaries are much more significant than in the first neighborhood.
External boundaries can be quite open or tightly closed, as you can see in the neighborhood example. Different families have different external boundaries. The middle of the range of boundaries is the healthiest. Permeability defines how open or how closed the family’s external boundaries are.
The Smith family rarely speaks, even though they all live in the same house. They don’t share information about one another’s life. They have:
Enmeshed boundariesPoor boundaries
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Maintenance strategies are all those things that are done to provide the family with necessities, like food, shelter, healthcare and education. Maintenance resources are the time, energy and money used to complete maintenance tasks. There is a range of different options in terms of maintenance strategies. These options may reflect priorities and decision-making.
In addition to financial resources, maintenance strategies include how the home and family are managed and organized. Who cooks dinner, does the laundry, and pays the bills?
The level of organization or disorganization in terms of these maintenance strategies may vary. If the system for completing maintenance tasks is extremely disorganized, bills may not get paid. The family may not have groceries for dinner and meals may not be served on time. The family system is more likely to be chaotic. In a family with very rigid maintenance strategies, groceries are bought, bills are paid, and meals are cooked on time, but the rigidity may pose challenges in the home or family—for instance, children may not be allowed creative play because it’s messy.
Family systems are considered adequate if they successfully complete maintenance tasks. However, you do need to remember that maintenance strategies and the rules used to implement them often reflect the rules, values, and priorities of the family. For instance, in a family that stresses individuality and creativity, a much higher tolerance for mess may be acceptable.
Emotional Management Strategies
Healthy family systems provide the members of the family with support, nurturing and love. These promote security within the family for both children and adults. For most families, this is a goal, but not all families succeed.
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