Term Paper: American Family in Today's High

Pages: 8 (2530 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] If answers are to be found they might possibly be hidden in the pre and post role model the father did and does portray.

Role Function

Prior to Drake's incarceration both he and Emily were not only positive role models for their three children but mentors as well. Both parents shared the responsibility of working, meal preparation, making sure all children were kept out of harms way, and were provided not only the basics but affluent perks as well. The children, although given the freedom to explore and test, were expected to be responsible and drug free. As is evident in any family unit the children often tired to soften up one parent in order to take on a special privilege but that rarely worked (Benson, 1996). Once Drake's incarceration was fully felt the three children simply, and without resignation, plied all their efforts toward Emily, the mother. The most interesting observation made about role modeling in the family is in reference to Emily's continued use of the phrase "Why don't you ask your father" - which rarely occurs now; and if it does it is usually on something very peripheral. What used to be the father's role model attributes such as cultural diversity, intelligence, humor, empathy, leadership, high performance, and being well managed have all but been dismissed by Gavin, Garth, and Rebecca.

Family Values

Family values cannot ever be understated as they provide children with a road map to their future. The Summers' family insistence, implied and stated, upon a cohesive set of Family Values was never far form any action undertaken by any of the five family members. The right to honor, justice, decency, dignity, and civil liberty were the core of most actions exhibited by the family. Unfortunately, however, and maybe because of age, the three children were unable to fully understand the route the father, Drake, embarked upon to exemplify the value of justice and dignity. To this end a final story is untold. In fact, an answer might well lie within the pride that once was, the envy once held, and the covetousness defied.

Family Stressors

No amount of prose can come close to describing the amount of stress incumbent upon the Summers' family. Having traveled the road from a well healed middle upper class family to one wherein the father was incarcerated thrust upon all family members an over abundance of stress related circumstances. Shame alone is probably the major stress factor with which the family had or has to deal. Although financial security, dignity, a safe environment, parental cohesiveness, and affluence were never a cause for concern prior to the father's incarceration, these factors had an almost insurmountable effect upon Emily, Gavin, Garth, and Rebecca. Emily lost 20 pounds from a weight of 122; Rebecca put on 35 pounds from a previous weight of 118; Garth availed himself of frequent drug usage; and Gavin became an alcoholic - all at the age of 45, 18, and 20 respectively. No justification can be given to this travesty other than the father's absence from the family, acceptable or not. By way of definition the stress placed upon Emily Gavin, Garth, and Rebecca by way of the father's incarceration is comprised of that which is reactive, cumulative, critical, and post traumatic. To cope with that which has taken its toll on this family is a story in and of its own.

Family Coping Strategies

Prior to Drake Summers' incarceration coping was simply a matter of enjoying a life of affluence, togetherness, and flexible tolerance. Financial concerns were not an issue; safety was never a concern; and freedom of expression was a right. During and after the father's incarceration there now exists a type of mime in the relationship that is witnessed between Emily, Gavin, Garth, Rebecca and Drake. When there was intimacy there now exists distance; wherein there existed sharing there now exists survival; and wherein there existed cohesiveness there exists removed independence. Throughout the father's entire incarceration the remaining family members were forced, not only to remain collectively and individually strong, but also resourceful and goal oriented. To this end the remaining members reached out to each other and secured a lifestyle that continued previously acquired traits of family solidarity and collective emotional and financial support. The remaining family remained in the community, and against a great deal of adversity, yet with head held high, and they embarked on a road of familial reconstruction in the absence of the father. By not hiding or looking down the family was able to adapt to an adverse situation and restore their right to be present without shame.

Family Adaptation

Whether or not this particular family has managed to adapt to the trauma of the father being incarcerated for 4.5 years may well never be known. To understand all that took place in reference to the familial dynamics goes beyond the scope of this written assignment. What can be said, however, is that this is one family has endured what others most often read about in the newspapers; that which others profess never to be a part; and that which many cannot emotionally comprehend. The story is, indeed, a chronicle of crises. Until recently all members lived together as one unit. The oldest son is now in medical school, and is sober; and the remaining two siblings are pursuing Ph.d degrees - ironically enough Garth is studying criminal psychology and is drug free. From observation and written accounts the mother and three children maintain a tight unity but the father remains on the peripheral.

Conclusion

There are no other words with which an appropriate conclusion can be drawn other than in the words of Drake: "This is a story unwritten -- a story of continued penance - a story of hopeful forgiveness."

References

Benson, Peter. (1996). 40 Developmental Assets. Search Institute.

Cooley, Charles Horton (1902). Human Nature and the Social

Order. New York: Scribner's, pp. 179-185.

Moen, Phyllis and Yan Yu (2000). "Effective work/life strategies: working couples, work conditions, gender and life quality." Social Problems. 47(3): 291-326.

Ohlson, E.L.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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