Families Are Like Twister… A lot of fun, but some days I’m not sure I want to play! CMS 332 – Family Collage By Jennifer Davis-Brawn
From a distance it is easy to make traditional assumptions about my family.But up close we are really a crazy game of Twister Hoopla; a little mixed up and a lot of fun!
With most games there are “house rules” to dictate how the game is played on this turf. I have ten siblings in my family of origin. Growing up with them,and my parents, has influenced the communication patterns and rules in my current family.
My family of origin has ranged from enmeshed todisengaged, from rigid to chaotic; hovering over different points at different times.
There are many subsystems functioning in my family of origin. Two of my sisters and I have formed a coalition, of sorts, to cope with our youngest sister’s behavior. We work together trying to protect our mother from abuse while at the same time trying toencourage the youngest to acceptsome grown-up responsibility for her own choices.These relationships can be very strained.
In my current family we are constantly renegotiating the tensions in our relationships; autonomy-connection with my teen age son, openness-closedness with my adult son who still lives at home,who’s turn it is to load the dish washer…wait, that is a different tension.
“Do you remember that time…” is a common refrain in our family. Stories from our family’s past help us to feel connected to each other and help us to make sense of who we are individually. Remember the time Clara and Max made a time machine out of a cardboard box?
Over the years my family has changed and so have some of the rules of communication. In my first marriage physical aggression was a sign of affection; we have been happy to let that rule go. In my second marriage yelling to each other fromthe bottom of the stairs was disrespectful. When the marriage ended, we did not keep that as a permanent rule.
My family of origin arepracticed secret keepers – but it is a burdensome practice. In my current family I havetried to keep only essential and sweet secrets; Like waiting until the perfect moment to announce that wewere expecting another baby or that the cousins are coming to visit.
“Maintaining high levels of satisfaction and love in marriage is problematic.” Kind of like keeping your right hand on red and your left hand on green whileyour left foot is on blue and your right foot is on yellow. It isn’t impossible, it’s just really challenging; and everybody has to want to play or it’s only yoga… and you can do yoga all by yourself.
One prevailing theme in our communication has been family unity. We love totalk to each other, to make time for family rituals, and to recognize the events in each other’s lives – good and bad.
In my family of origin mymother stayed home and my father was the provider. They divorced. Each remarried.Now, my step-father tries hard to be as helpful as he can. Helikes to visit but he is happiest when he helps me solve a problem. My step-mother is very busy.She loves me but prefers not to be too involved with me or with my life.
My role in my current family has changed. With the departure of my husband I have taken on the role of provider in addition to my roles of mother and student. It is difficult to keep upright in the Twister game these days. My children are changing roles also. My oldest daughter has moved away from home to another state. The next child is enacting his role andpreparing to leave. I don’t get tangled up with him very often because our schedules are so different.
In my current family there is a great deal of pressure on everyone – from everyone – to agree; even though everyone is allowed and encouraged to express themselves. The thoughts and feelings of each family member areimportant but our “similar values and attitudes enhance [familial] harmony.”
Many factors influence decision making at our house. It is nice when decisions are joint or reached by consensus or even accommodation But often de facto decisions must be made. Usually the “de factocator” is me, but as my childrenget older they make more and more decisions on their own or in conjunction with each other.
“There are many ways to be a family” and “the perfect family does not exist”Our family certainly isn’t perfect but our culture and patterns have helped us to form what I hope are strong, lasting bonds with each other. Our communication has adapted with the “variety of family experiences” we have had. We will continue to befun and flexible as we adjust to new family changes in the future.
Galvin, K. M., Bylund, C. L., & Brommel, B. J. (2012). Family Communication Cohesion and Change. Indianapolis: Allyn and Bacon.