POWER, INFLUENCE AND DECISION-MAKING “ So children learn about power not just from what their parents try to teach them but also from observing their parents’ interactions with them, with each other, and with other persons inside and outside the family.” (Hilary M. Lips)
Each family has its own way of reaching decisions on issues. Decisions can be reached by:
Consensus: involves discussion that continues until agreement is reached. This may require flexibility and compromise. Everyone in the family has a part in the decision, and the opportunity to influence. In the end, the solution is acceptable to all involved.
Accommodation: occurs when some family members consent to a decision, not because they agree, but because they feel that further discussion will be unproductive.
DeFacto: this occurs when one member of the family moves ahead and acts without a clear-cut decision. It is made without direct family approval, but made to keep the family functioning.
Principle (or Contract): family members operate on principles of fairness and care. Based on a belief in the basic human needs of each family member and a desire to put the family’s welfare above individual concerns. Principles are sometimes stated overtly – such as in family themes and rules – other times they are conveyed through key family stories.
Most family decision-making goes through a series of phases to reach a satisfactory or unsatisfactory decisions.
The family problem-solving loop, developed by Kieren, Maguire and Hurlbut, is a good way to think about this. It illustrates the phases of decision-making developed in the path families take when they make decisions.
It breaks the process down into eight steps. Each of the eight steps marks the beginnings/endings of different patterns of interaction in problem-solving.