Analysis of family/relationship using three course concept

Introduction to family

Growing up, my family experienced the public and private type oflife. It was the kind of family where everyone wanted to beassociated. Coming from an affluent high-class society with bothparents holding esteemed careers, what more could a child ask for. Myfather was a prominent politician and my mother a lawyer making usenviable to the society. Being the

Second child, I always competed with my brother to get the attentionfrom my busy parents. Our parents took us to the best schools andfinances were not a challenge despite others complaining of beingbroke. We never lacked all the luxuries that children our age desiredand dreamt of. Our holidays were scheduled months before to glamoroushotels while our home was a haven until things changed. Dad suddenlylost his seat in the senate forcing him to start from scratch again.It was tough for our family because everything changed. The media whoalways wrote good things about dad turned their backs on him andnegative comments started falling on us. Dad sunk into a deepdepression before we knew it he was hospitalized. The strength of ourfamily was tested here. I am glad that through such experiences weare stronger and have managed to move on with life.

Families are tied by blood and legal ties when people live togetherfor a period of time. Our family was a traditional two parentbiological family made of parents and their biological children. Itcan fall under the category of majority of Chinese families who marryonce and get children together. Economic issues cannot be overlookedin family set-ups today. Many families are embracing the dual earnerrelationships to deal with economic times. My parents are bothChinese from the same race and thus ethnic issues were not achallenge for me. Our family has been the greatest source of strengthfor me and I wish that all children would be proud to say the samethings about their families.

Framework for family communication

It had never been a challenge for my brother James and sister in lawJeane to get along during their courtship but marriage proved to besomething else. I recount many family meetings at home trying tosolve challenges that resulted from their communication breakdown.While Jeane grew up as an introvert, James was social and talkativeexpressing things that offended him openly. When they got married,Jeane let James take over as the man of the house. She would endurehis whines silently whenever anything upset him. James on the otherhand would not understand Jeane and whenever she was angry, she keptquiet leading to a communication breakdown. This affected theirmarriage largely during the first three years.

Communication is a powerful aspect for families as a symbolictransactional way of sharing meanings. If not used appropriatelyfamilies can suffer immensely as a result of communication breakdown.Communication is not only verbal but non-verbal and can communicatemany things through eye contact, facial expression, posture,appearance or even through movements. Transactional communication istwo way and effective in creating mutual interaction. Meanings andmessages are understood through communicating. Kathleen et al. (2012)argues that each family develops its own communication codes withinthe framework of shared cultural communication. Communication isfirst learnt through the family context (general and specificcommunication) patterns of families.

Intimacy within partnerships and families

My grandparents are remarkable people and it is evident that theyare still in love after being married for six decades. Despite thewrinkled aging face that my grandfather looks at daily, he stillaffords to tell my grandmother that she is the prettiest woman he hasever seen. They dine together and take long beach walks during theevenings. Watching them speak about their love life late at night isalways great especially at a time when marriages barely survive adecade of marriage. On asking my grandparents what keeps theirrelationship solid through the years, she tells me that they havealways had a special connection since they met sixty years ago. Sheis quick to tell me that they have had relationship complicationslike any other couple but they never let their communication andconnection fail. They share family intimacy and enjoy each other’scompany to date. Research reveals that successful familyrelationships are based on communication.

Adaptability and cohesion in the family system

All family systems have to learn how to adapt to each other andunexpected situations that arise in the family. When my dad lost hisprominent position in the senate, it was not easy to deal with allthe stresses that came with it. Watching my renowned role model gofrom the top and seeing him sink into a depression unable to copewith the challenges at that time bore a heavy weight for me and ourfamily. I cannot say that adapting to this situation was easy.However, we resolved as a family to stay strong and united for thesake of our family. Cohesion became imperative when we realized thatall we had was us and dad needed us to be strong at that time when hewas weak. We purposed to stay together despite all the blows from thepublic and media not caring much about their opinions but wantingtogetherness to be our strength.

Unpredictable stress and family coping patterns are crucial elementsin dealing with family stressors. According to Kathleen et al.(2012), stressors are events or situations that have positive ornegative psychological influences. When family members are stressedthey experience psychological and physiological changes as theiranxiety increases. This affects their coping mechanisms.Psychologists classify stress under predictable patterns asfunctional or dysfunctional. To develop stress coping mechanisms,families deal with stress differently. Family coping mechanismsdepend on several factors. Bain (1978) claimed family copingcapacities as related to four factors. Past stressors faced by familymembers, social support, extent of role change, and institutionalsupport for family members. When we were going through thatchallenging moment in our family, one factor that contributed to ourcoping capacities was social support from family members. If we hadrigid family boundaries, it would have been very difficult to copewith stress adequately.

The healing process of family crisis is a process that involved anoverlap of events asserts Barlswick (2007). To start with, it wasshocking to hear that dad was no longer in the senate. Watching hisfall sick and get hospitalized after being diagnosed with depressionwas disturbing for us and send us to denial and disbelief. The secondstage was confusion and guilt while the third one involved gettingdepressed over the unexpected stressor. The fourth step wasreorganization leading to accepting the situation and a recoveryphase that was relieving for us. Throughout this processes our familyremained united and communicated about what we felt. Adapting tosituations especially if stressful requires strong will anddetermination to overcome such situations. Eventually, families thatovercome stressful events emerge more united and are able tocommunicate about their future challenges openly.

Meanings and rules

Each family has developed a unique way of communicating. It helps indefining meanings and making assertions regarding different issues inlife. Family meanings are created in response to messages sometimeshidden or at times not hidden.

Whenever Raymond said Ha, Risper said Huu and they moved on. Risperwho is my friend’s sister and her brother have a unique way ofcommunicating certain meanings. Growing up as twins has been awonderful experience for them and they are inseparable. They learnedthe Ha huu way of encoding meaning from their cousins uptown whilevisiting them for holidays. According to Risper, ha is a way ofgetting Raymond’s attention while Huu is a response, which mosttimes implies no. Whenever the two fraternal twins are caught incheeky situations, they can easily get out of the situation throughhidden meanings that no one suspects or even figures out what theyare.

Through this example, we understand that meaning promotes sharingunderstanding in various situations. Meanings explain family rulesand tie together family members in a very interesting way. They alsohold family secrets and purposefully hide or conceal information frompeople outside the family. Secrets in families can be classified asessential, toxic and dangerous. Vangelisti (1994) classified secretslike rule violations such as cohabiting, conventional secrets likedeath and taboos which include illegalities. According to him, therole of secrets are privacy, defense, communication, evaluation,maintenance and bonding. Secrets and family patterns can changefamilies in many ways. Hidden secrets are often revealed during theintensity of relationships like divorces, death, separation, birth,farewell amongst others.

Conflicts appearing in the family relationship, productive/destructive ways that conflictual situations manage

It is almost impossible to have the same view of things despitebeing family members. As a result, conflicts are inevitable infamilies. The absence of conflicts in families may be an indicator ofnon-functioning families while the avoidance of conflicts can lead tonegative long-term effects argues Gottman and Krokoff (1990).

Growing up with an older brother was a privilege that at times mademe question his presence in my life. Being younger, I expected thatmy brother would always have my back and cover up for my mistakes.Instead, what I received was a bout of conflicts and unnecessaryquarrels that at times made me wish to have been an only child. Wenever got along with my brother and argued for even the smallestissues. He was a perfectionist who wanted everyone to do things hisway while I would never follow him. This angered him and we usuallyended up yelling at each other or holding fists until my mother cameto intervene. Some of the conflicts were productive while others werenot. The only time I felt relieved was when my brother decided tomove out of the house and go rent his own apartment. This was a goodday for and to be frank I said that I would never miss him. However,the blood ties would not allow me to forget him. I constantly missedhim and the absence in my heart made me grow fond of him. Today weare in good terms and inseparable. I spend many days in his apartmentand love him greatly. Perhaps all we needed was the separation torealize that conflicts can stop.

It is not uncommon for siblings or spouses to get into conflictswith each other. Conflicts arise from multiple issues and are handleddifferently asserts Kathleen et al. (2012). Most of the times theseconflicts escalate and may cause harm to the parties that areinvolved. Insults, threats and abuse are all forms of destructiveconflicts. The two most common types of conflicts are productive anddestructive conflicts. Destructive conflicts are divided into overtand covert conflicts resulting in destructive outcomes. In covertdestructive conflict, the messages are not clear and feelings arehidden. Anger by family members is expressed indirectly to keeprelationships intact and preserve harmony. Covert conflict relies oneither of the five communication strategies namely denial,displacement, disengagement, disqualification and pseudomutuality. Indenial, an angered person claims that they are not while displacementimplies directing anger to the wrong person. Disengagement entailsexpressing hostility through lack of interaction whilepseudomutuality is the opposite. Over destructive conflict includeshostile aggression verbally or physically. An example of overdestructive behavior is domestic violence. The type of conflicts weusually had with my brother were overt destructive. According to Cahnand Lloyd (1996), the violent member intends to harm, injure, andinstill physical or psychological pain on the other.

Constructive conflicts have optimal effects on family unions for along time. The ability of spouses to handle conflicts properlybenefits children and provides a peaceful environment for them tolive in. Parents who are successful at problem solving are good rolemodels to their children, make the children feel secure and shareaffection. Constructive conflict can be achieved through listening,fighting fairly and choosing appropriate space/ physical environment.

Analysis of any two groups of concepts b. family roles andcommunication d. power and decision making

b. family roles and communication

Family roles communicate a lot about family members. For example,the term grandmother, father, stepmother all imply somethingdifferent in communication about a family and roles. Roledefinitions, functions, appropriation and couple typologies explorethe complexity of roles in a family. While family roles can bedefined as recurring patterns of behavior through the interaction offamilies, functions are concepts of functioning and allocatingresponsibilities. Role appropriation explains expectations, enactmentand negotiation of family members. Family roles were defined in myfamily accordingly. My father took care of paying our school fees andproviding all basic needs. He understood his functions as a man andleft no burden to my mother. Mother enacted her roles well ensuringthat we ate balanced diets and got u early in preparation for school.Family types are imperative and communicate family patterns ofbeliefs and values. Family types can be closed, open or random.

d. Power, decision making

When Milan was born my aunt was the happiest woman in the world.Like any other mother, Aunt Nadia had many hopes for her little angelwho was barely two hours old. One thing she did not see cominghowever was quitting her job to become a full time mother. As much asshe had lightly discussed about that issue with her husband, auntthought that the maternity and paternity leave was time enough spentwith her little one and that they would soon bounce back to work.What she did not see was the other side of her husband’s perceptionand decision to make her quit the job she had long searched. Thisprovoked a heated debate and almost cut short the joy of the newparents.

Power influence and decision-making are crucial factors in manyfamilies today. Nadia was torn in between respecting her husband asthe head of their family or making her decision to go on working andlive her little girl under the care of a nanny. As much as she foundit awkward to ask for permission from her husband about working orquit her job, power influence and decision making in this case appearintertwined. Joe influenced aunt Nadia to quit her job for theirchild’s sake. Power is exercised by all family members to gaincontrol of some issues and impacts life through producing change orhindering change from taking place. Family members find lifeunbearable if they cannot have control of family members. Accordingto Green &amp Elffers, 1998) being too openly aggressive in makingpower take course is undesirable. Power affects communication infamilies in situations that are non-influential and non-decisionmaking. It appears through ordinary conversation and during intimateself-disclosure according to Duncan &amp Rock (1993). Examining thethree power aspects will help us understand the complexity of powerand its development in family systems namely, power bases, processesand outcomes. Family members use resources to exert control inspecific situations. Mc Donald classified the resources in terms ofcognitive, personal, economic, normative and affective resources.Family members cannot possess all five elements equally but use themin given situations.

Elsewhere, power processes are the communication practices thataffect decision making in a family especially during crisis andarguments. Power processes attempt to control others throughpersuasion and assertiveness argues Vangelisti (1994a). Poweroutcomes focus on who decides and wins. The outcomes includesolutions, new rules, procedures, emotional effects, feelings aboutdecisions leading to at least one family member getting her way. AuntNadia’s husband influenced Nadia to quit her job and though manyemotional effects were involved, Nadia finally resolved to take careof her child for at least one year. The orchestration of power fromNadia’s husband Joe, gave him control over Nadia’s suggestion toquit her work. Power develops through transactional processes andmarital power reflects the extent of love towards each other. The onespouse dominant, autonomic and syncratic relationship characterizesdifferent forms of authority in families. Power influences decisionmaking using consensus, de facto or accommodation decisions. Thedecision-making steps help solve problems and though at timescompromise is reached, the problem solving process can strengthen afamily’s cohesion.

In conclusion, family analysis is a good way of learning aboutcommunication between families. It also helps us get a better view offamily cohesion and ch


Bain, A. (1978). “The capacity of families to cope withtransitions: A theoretical essay.” Human relations, 31,675-688

Balswick, J. &amp Balswick, J. (2007). Marriage enrichmentprogram evaluation. Retrieved from

www.baylor.edu/content/services/document .php/41412.pdf.

Cahn, D. D., &amp Lloyd, S. A. (1996). Family violence from acommunication perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Duncan, B. L., &amp Rock, J. W. (1993, January–February). Savingrelationships: The power of the unpredictable. Psychology Today,46–51,86, 95.

Kathleen, G. Bylund, C. &amp Brommel, B.(2012).Familycommunication, cohesion and change, 8th Ed. Allyn andBacon,Pearson.

Green, R., &amp Elffers, J. (1998). “The laws of power.” UtneReader, 1, 78–85.

Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rded.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Gottman, J. M., &amp Krokoff, L. J. (1990). “Complex statisticsare not always clearer than simple

statistics: A reply to Woody and Costenzo.” Journal ofConsulting and Clinical Psychology, 58,502–505.

Vangelisti, A. L. (1994a). “Couples’ communication problems: Thecounselor’s perspective.” Journal of Applied CommunicationResearch, 22, 106–126.

Vangelisti, A. L. (1994b). “Family secrets: Forms, functions, andcorrelates.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,11, 113–135.