My family can be somewhat described as a blended family and a step family. My parents were divorced and both remarried. I live with only my mother and stepfather, as my older sister has moved out and started her own family now. I grew up with my stepsiblings from my fathers new family but my father is recently divorced again and my stepsiblings are not close. My stepfather had one daughter previously but she passed away a number of years ago. All of these things make a family type very hard to define.“The blended family consists oftwo adults and theirchildren…(p.9). This definitiononly fits the fact that I have 2parents. I technically no longerhave a stepfamily, but I stillconsider them distant family. My sister’s wedding; included is 4 parents, my grandmother, stepsiblings with spouses and children, missing is one stepbrother
The family typology that I think could best describe my family is Laissez- faire. “Laissez-faire families, low on both conformity and conversation dimensions, interact very little” (p. 174). Both sides of my family are low in conformity meaning that we have some shared values and attitudes but not many. They are also low in conversation; I do not speak to my father often, nor my step “family”, or sister. I am much closer to my mother, stepfather, and a couple aunts. My father’s family is very quiet and does not self- disclose very easily. As the text says members look outside of the family for support and influence, which is especially true of my sister. I look more to extended family than to friends and acquaintances. I am extremely close to one of my paternal aunts, whom I’ve stayed with the past two summers babysitting my baby cousin.On the left is my 2 paternalaunts and my paternaluncle’s wife.On the right is me holding mybaby cousin who I babysit inthe summers.
The text uses a continuum to describe the family primary function of cohesion, meaning how close or separated a family is. I think my family would be best described as connected, which the text explains, “Family members experience emotional independence as well as some sense of involvement and belonging” (p. 31). My family is more separated than it is connected. Neither side is very good at showing affection, self-disclosing, or staying in touch from day to day. This is conflicting because I wish to be much closer to them but they either to not share this need or do not know how to. Left: My stepfamily: Even when my father and stepmother were married we were not a connected family. Right: My sister and I love each other, but our differences have separated us over the years.
Rituals can be actions or words that family members say and do repetitively that contain some meaning between members, and they serve certain purposes; “Rituals convey a variety of meanings and messages in emotionally powerful patterns…” (p. 113). My family has some rituals which are dinners on holidays, family reunions, birthdays, etc. The only ritual that has stayed constant in my family over the years is gathering together for holiday meals on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, as well as a week at a camp with my fathers side of the family. Because my family is not photogenic, these are the only few pictures taken during the family ritual of Christmas dinners and gift time.
The making of decisions in families can take the form of many processes, strategies, and outcomes. The decision-making process that I think best describes that of my family is accommodation. Galvin, Bylund, and Brommel describe this as, “…when some family members consent to a decision but because they totally agree but because they believe that further discussion will be unproductive” (p. 197). Some members of my family are very outspoken, stubborn, and put themselves first including my father, sister, and stepfather. Other members of the family including myself often use this process because it the easiest decision at the time, rather than cause further argument and disagreement, but it is not necessarily the best outcome.
Every family deals with conflict in different ways, and members inside that family handle conflict differently from one another; my family is no different. In past years my mother and I usually dealt with conflict by either avoiding or accommodating to other members in the family. In recent years my mother and I have become more assertive for ourselves and employ compromise and collaboration, we show concern for both ourselves and others, and strive for a solution that meets the needs of everyone equally. Other members use competitiveness where, “Your concern for self is high; thus, you see conflict as a way to get what you need, regardless of another’s needs or concerns.
On my father’s side of the family, quite often when conflict occurs a demand/withdraw pattern will happen, the text lists several examples of this type of pattern, all of which my family uses from time to time; discuss/exit, Socratic question/perfunctory response, complain/deny, and criticize/defend
My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew born 4/5 Galvin, Bylund, and Brommel use a continuum to represent levels or flexibility or adaptability that a family has. My family is most often structured meaning that, “Family members experience more moderate levels of change as well as limited shared decision making and leadership and relatively stable roles and rules” (p.32). Roles and use rarely ever change in my family, unless a leader of the family passes away, such as when we lost my grandfather, at that point my father took over the leadership role. Change has recently occurred with a new addition to the family, but roles have not changed.
Self-disclosure is not an easy process in my family. Most members withhold much personal information and feelings during conversation. Self-disclosure can be explained as, “…when one person intentionally tells another individual personal or private things about himself or herself that the other is unable to discover in a different manner” (p.131). This process works best as a “give and take” process, but most often in my family self-disclosure is not reciprocated. Self-disclosure between couples in the family may be strong, but at gatherings information shared and topics discussed remain largely platonic and unemotional. http://www.minnaar-cc.com/selfdisclosurecourse.php
Secrets can be beneficial to families in some cases such as surprises or boundary management, but in other instances they can be harmful and detrimental to some members. My family does not keep secrets very often, and when they do they are usually harmless. The one toxic secret my family had was kept from my sister, myself, and my cousin. The older generation kept from us, the kids, that I was born with a twin sister, who died shortly after birth due to complications, because they thought it would hurt me. I was informed when I was 11, and the revelation was detrimental to myself and my whole family. If I had grown up Above: My twin, Jennifer, and I. with the loss of my twin as part of my family, I firmly believe it would have not harmed my development through the years, my trust in my family, and how my family communicates as a whole. Toxic secrets are defined as, “…key family issues and stories remain untold and unexplained” (p.89). The texts further explains that these secrets can, “…have chronic negative effects on problem solving, conversational repertoire, perceptions, and emotional well- being… (p.89)”http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=2015
Levels of relational maintenance vary in my family; some relationships continuously struggle while others remain strong. I strive to use relational maintenance in my family relationships because I have lost many members in the past when our relationships were not strong and that is a major regret of mine. Relational maintenance means, “…Keeping a relationship (1) in existence, (2) in a state of connectedness, (3) in My sister, mother, and I satisfactory condition, and (4) in repair” (p.106). My family in general does not maintain its’ relationships very well, especially across generations. Most sibling relationships in my family are somewhat close, but if more and/or better relational maintenance strategies were used, I think it would bring my family much closer together.
Every family has power tensions within it, and most likely one or some members have more power than others. Power is not only something a member has, but it is negotiated by members of the family through new interactions and conflicts every day, so it is an ongoing and fluctuating process. Galvin, Bylund, and Brommel explain it as, “…it uses, reduces, or increases tensions when individual family members interact with each other over goals or attempts to change others’ behavior” (p.180). The three people who have the most power in my family is my father, sister, and stepfather. They all use cognitive resources to maintain their power, meaning that they are of their power and know how it influences other people.
Relational currencies to me mean what a person in any given relationship “brings to the table”. They are symbolic and they can express feelings such as caring, love, concern, etc, through acts or statements. Currencies can include money, gifts, disclosure, touch, time, tasks, etc. The major currency in my family is taking time out of our day to be with each other. We have created family get together rituals as a way of showing each other the importance we have in each others lives. My family is mostly working class so over the years they have learned to show their care for one another in ways such as these.
Non-verbal communication is often overlooked, but can be Sister, much more revealing about brother-in- law, what a person is really trying grandmother to communicate than verbal communication. Some families may have different ways of communicating nonverbally. For example, my family does not use powerful facial expressions so it can be hard to now what they really feel. My family does use a lot of hand gestures and rarely uses eyeBaby cousin, contact. I think because ofHannah this my family is much better t communicating over telephone and email.
Galvin, Bylund, and Brommel define family roles in their text as, “…recurring patterns of behavior developed through the interaction that family members use to fulfill family functions” (p.150). Typical roles in families can include gender molding in children, nurturing and emotional support, development of individuals, My mother as a new grandmother, reflecting her nurturing and family management, kinship maintenance, and developmental roles providing resources such as food and money (151). My mother has played all of these roles throughout my life, while my stepfather only has the role of providing some resources and development of children. My father only plays the role of child development and kinship maintenance. My family in general does not adhere to traditional roles because my mother is the main provider of financial resources, not the men in my family. My mother’s success at MMA, reflecting her career role
Galvin, K.M., Bylund, C.L., and Brommel, B.J. (2012). Family Communication: Cohesion and Change. (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.