A Picture is WorthA Thousand Words Kyle Gervais CMS 332 11-20-11
What Family Is“Networks of people who share their lives over longperiods of time bound by ties of marriage, blood,law, or commitment, legal or otherwise, who considerthemselves as family and who share a significanthistory and anticipated future of functioning as afamily” (8).
Family TypeI come from a two-parent biological family, the type offamily from which both of my parents come from as wellThis type of family “consists of parents and thechildren who are from the union of these parents” (9).
Communication Patterns and Family Functions “Communication provides form and content to a family’s life as members engage in family-related functions….a function is simply something a system must do…in order to avoid a breakdown” (29-30).The three dimensions of thecircumplex model of maritaland family systems arecohesion, adaptability andcommunication.
Cohesion and AdaptabilityConcerning the four levels of cohesion,my family would be considered cohesive,where “family members strive foremotional closeness, loyalty, andtogetherness with an emphasis on someindividuality” (31). We love each otherand are there for each other but alsohave our own, very separate lives. As far as adaptability, or “how family systems manage stability and change” (32), I would call my family flexible. We are able to “experience high levels of change, shared decision making, and shifting rules and roles” (32). In 1997, we moved from Fort Kent, where all of my mom’s side was living, down to Saco, closer to my dad’s side, which resulted in a big shift socially and financially, but which we were successfully able to adapt to.
Family ThemesThe theme that my family has taken for itself is that “You canalways depend on family.” After the move, we were not asclose to my grandparents (my mom’s parents) who were amajor part of my upbringing, as well as my brother andsister’s, but they still visit us at least once every two months,and we make individual trips up north once a year. My dad’sside of the family is also there for us whenever we needsupport, and we are there for them. If anything were to gowrong for any of us, we know that we would be able to rely onmembers of the family, from whatever side, to help.
RulesMy immediate family is very relaxed as far as rules go. When I was younger, a few ofmy friend’s parents thought that mine were giving my too much freedom (which isfunny, because I thought I was being sheltered compared to other friends). Throughhigh school, and afterwards when we were still living at home, the children of thefamily were required to be home by a certain time (usually midnight) and call if wewere going to be any later or if plans changed. Because this seemed totallyreasonable, we followed the rules and rarely got into trouble or found ourselvesgrounded.As far as language is concerned, nothing is off limits and I have said some ofthe most vulgar things ever spoken in the company of my parents and nevergotten into trouble. We all swear like sailors. We are also aware though, thatwhen we are in the company of others, or even members of our extendedfamily, that we need to keep it clean.
Rituals “Rituals convey a variety of meanings and messages in emotionally powerful patterns; they remind members of who they are, how much they care about each other, and they reflect a family’s relational culture” (113).Growing up, my family used to have My sister and her boyfriend also watch differentdinner together every single night as sports together with my dad. I play in a band andwell as getting together with my my parents are at most shows, even if nobody elsegrandparents and cousins on is.Sundays after church (which wewent to together). After moving,church ended, as did eating dinnertogether but we still found time togo to the movies together, or thesedays, have a Sunday dinnerwhenever all of us are free.
RolesJim – My dad, the primary provider, handyman, supportive, a total goofball, willing to do anything to make sure his family is okay (be it emotionally or financially)Linda – My mom, calls the shots, has the final say, does most of the cooking and some of the cleaning, extremely helpful with getting (and keeping) her kids on the right pathChris – My brother, part-time comedian and independent filmmaker, the only one of us children still living at home, extremely moody, twin to my sister, spoiled rottenErin – My sister, understudy for my mother as far as thinking that she can call the shots and have the final say, twin to my brother, disinterested in having her own children but living with a guy who already has twoKyle – Me, struggling musician, soon-to-be college graduate (the first in my immediate family including my parents), the eldest child and most independent
Decision Making “Decision making, like power, is a process that belongs to the family system, not to an individual” (195).When it comes to making decisions involving the family, like what we are doing forThanksgiving or Christmas or what color we are painting the bathroom, my mom makesthese calls. This is because we are all aware that she is the only one truly invested in thedecision and that she will be the only one brokenhearted if it doesn’t go her way. When itcomes to personal decisions though, we know that our family is there for us and usually,during one of our Sunday dinners together, we will air out what has been bothering us orlook to members for support in making a decision. Just recently, I made the decision toquit my job but wouldn’t have felt as okay with it if not for the support and backing ofmy family.
Conflict differences are more “Family members who confront their likely to improve their relationships and experience more joint benefits that increase love and caring” (210).Though my family loves each other and gets along shockingly well for the most part, we arenot without conflict. Growing up, I was very stubborn and selfish and got in a lot ofarguments with my parents as well as my siblings which, through the years, I learned from.Getting older though, there are still fights, except these days they most often between mybrother and I. Having extremely similar personalities and tastes does not make for a goodcombination and usually, at every other family get-together, we have it out about some sortof movie, TV show or band that we disagree on. He takes things personally and gets madthat I don’t get more worked up about these things. This is what is happening in the pictureon the right. On the left, at a much younger age, I thought it would be funny to give my sisterbunny ears. My brother didn’t find it as funny and decided to pull my hair.
Open FamilyAs you might have guessed from the lack of censorship or force, and the factthat none of we children have any defined career paths, that the GervaisFamily is an open family. We are busy people, who are willing to experiencenew things and keep our options open. It wasn’t always like this though;before graduating high school, I would have said that we were more of aClosed Family, but as our lives have changed and the world has screwed usover a little bit at a time, my parent’s standards and goals have certainlychanged, and honestly, it’s only improved our relationships with each other.
Family ImageMy family is like a lava lamp. We’re bouncing around all over the place, at different speeds, with no clear direction and while we might occasionally crash into one another and explode into little pieces, we are stuck together and we look pretty cool.
FamilyAs I get older, and the opportunity to start my own family becomes more of a reality, I am confident that I will carry on the themes, traditions and pieces of my upbringing that makes my family such a positive element in my life. It isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Works CitedBrommel, B.J.; Bylund, C.L.; Galvin, K.M; Family Communication: Cohesion and Change, 8th ed; Allyn and Bacon; 2012.