family genogram and analysis Research Paper

Pages: 11 (3073 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sociology - Counseling

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Michael and his mother are close, but Michael speaks differently with her than with Xavier. Michael's role has become an important feature in unhealthy triangulation, as his relationship with his mother and his father are both strained.

Because of the complexities of relationships in the household, triangulation is inevitable. It is apparent that Poppy has triangulated the relationship between Xavier and Samantha. "Triangles can appear when a dyadic relationship is under stress and unstable and a third party, often a child, is drawn into the relationship to stabilize the situation and diffuse the tension," (Collins, Jordan & Coleman, 2013, p. 91). Collins, Jordan & Coleman (2013) also point out that triangles can be especially problematic -- albeit common -- in families like these in which children from previous relationships are brought together under one roof.

The parental unit functions fairly well considering the circumstances, but the reason they are seeking assistance is that their relationship has deteriorated since Michael starting experiencing trouble at school. Michael's potential mistrust of his step-father and the stress he experiences now not being the youngest child in the family and receiving less attention from his mother could be bothering him, but his inability to open up and identify his core feelings is impeding communication overall. Michael seems to be hurting the most at the moment, causing Samantha to presume responsibility.

Life Cycle

Xavier and Samantha met on an online dating site. After six months of casual dating, Samantha became pregnant. They experienced a minor crisis, as they had not yet been ready to commit to one another. Xavier had a teenage daughter, who at the time was going through some troubles of her own. Samantha was determined to have the child and eventually Xavier and Catherine moved in with Samantha. Xavier sold his condo to move into Samantha's house, which she received from her ex-husband. The relationship was strained until Poppy was about one-year-old, after which a new "normal" set in, and since then, the family has been harmonious. Before then, Catherine and Samantha frequently fought to the point where Catherine was sleeping at her friend's house almost three full days per week.

They are technically at the "family with teenagers" stage of the family cycle, but with Catherine exhibiting a great deal of maturity there is little need to focus on her. In fact, the presence of Poppy places Xavier and Samantha at the "family with young children" stage -- for the second time for each of the parents. The "family with young children" stage centers on "restabilizing the marital unit with a triangle," as well as "bonding with the child and integrating that child into the family," (Collins, Jordan & Coleman, 2013, p. 110). "Realigning relationships with one another" is also a core component of the "families with young children" stage (Collins, Jordan, & Coleman, 2013, p. 110). Whereas they have resolved crises without interventions before, currently they are facing too many stressors to deal with the issues on their own.

Ecological Environment

The family is somewhat affected by its environment, particularly with regard to Samantha's parents. How to address the needs of the parents is only recently becoming an issue. With Catherine considering college, Samantha is hinting at moving them into the household. Catherine will not commit to going to college where she will not be living at home, leading to some uncertainty for the future. They are totally self-sufficient, although lately finances are strained and they do not have the ability to save much money. Samantha is strongly involved with her community of origin and has a group of Brazilian friends who do not speak much English. Likewise, Xavier has a group of childhood friends he has known his whole life and who are Jewish. Neither Xavier nor Samantha are religious but they celebrate their respective religious holidays as cultural activities.

FAD: Assessing Family Functioning

Given to Catherine, the oldest child, and to both Samantha and Xavier, the FAD revealed that all three of these family members score high on elements related to sharing feelings, being open about uncomfortable feelings, and being willing to resolve family crises by relying on communication. A strong concurrence between their scores shows that the results are reliable. For example, all three answered "strongly agree" to the item "We can express feelings to each other." Similarly, all three answered "strongly disagree" to "We avoid discussing our fears and concerns." The answers indicated slightly less resilience with regards to planning family activities, role clarity, and spreading tasks around.

Family Strengths, Resilience, and Culture

The family is fairly resilient. With regards to the microsystem, face-to-face relationships are honest and open. Michael's difficulties interacting with other members of the family is the notable exception. Mesosystems are more strained, especially because of Michael's problems with his peers and his teachers at school. There are no significant exosystems at stake with this family. Macrosystem issues that are at stake include their different values regarding elder care, with Samantha's cultural background making it so that elder care is a personal responsibility. For Xavier, elder care is not as much of an issue and he would rather not have to live with his in-laws. Because the family's main source of strength is in their microsystem health, this will be considered their point of resilience. Resilience is "the family's ability to cultivate strengths to positively meet the challenges of life," (Collins, Jordan & Coleman, 2013, p. 149). The family has been able to respond to adversity by being honest with one another, open about feelings, and also willing to take personal responsibility.

A family resilience model focuses on strengths and also on growth, revealing "the potential for personal and relational transformation and growth that can be forged out of adversity," (Walsh, 2003, p. 4). It is inspiring that the family, comprised of disparate and potentially divergent elements, can come together dedicated to solving the challenges that lay before it. As Saltzman, Pynoos, Lester, et al. (2013) point out, narrative co-construction, in which families recreate their narratives in situations like these, can provide the means to generate genuine strength, fortitude, and resilience to overcome the challenges that Michael presents.

Assessment of Parenting Skills, Child Development, and Parent-Child Relationships

Because the family consists of children from previous marriages, Samantha and Xavier have had to continually redefine their roles. When they first moved in together, Samantha tried to immediately assume the role of mother for Catherine. Catherine and her step-mother did not get along until Catherine started to spend less time at home, at which point Samantha could devote more time to Poppy. Samantha assumed most of the parenting duties for Michael until after Poppy was born and the dynamic changed.

Their parenting styles differ, with Samantha's slightly more authoritarian style blending with Xavier's more permissive and harmonious style. Generally harmonious, Xavier takes the lead in creating opportunities for the children to make their own decisions and make choices, while still refraining from spoiling them or being overly permissive. Occasionally, Samantha seemed rigid in observations, although she also showed moments of tenderness.

Ethnicity and culture are important to contextualize this family. Samantha is entrenched in the Brazilian community, which offers her a strong network of friends. Her parents do not speak English, helping to anchor Samantha further in her community. Her Brazilian support system is strong and makes it so that her norms about elder care are immutable

Xavier comes from a more fragmented family, and his parents live out of state. The differences in their backgrounds are negligible, though, because Xavier comes from a large Latin household, albeit a Spanish-speaking one.

The differential needs at their own life stage reflects gender differences (Robbins, Chatterjee & Canda, 2012). As new theories of lifespan development reveal, Xavier is becoming more stable and dedicated to his family while Samantha may be seeking new career opportunities in the gigging economy.

An ecomap reveals the unique exosystems and macrosystems that interface with this family:

Assessment Findings

Although Samantha and Xavier head a resilient household, it is a family that is currently facing many different stressors from different directions. Samantha's parents used to be healthy and would assume childcare duties. Now one of them is sick, and they are weakening to the point where Samantha is worried they cannot live independently anymore. Catherine, the oldest child, is about to leave the house. When she leaves, Michael will be the oldest child. He is six years old but is experiencing behavioral problems that have yet to be fully addressed or assessed. He has been acting out in school and exhibits aggressive behavior. Although communication channels are open with most of the family members, Michael is unwilling or unable to share his underlying feelings: he may be feeling threatened by the presence of Poppy, as he was once the youngest child receiving his mom's full attention. The basically harmonious parenting styles are hopeful, but the family would definitely benefit from family work as they go through impending transitions. Michael would benefit from additional… [END OF PREVIEW]

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