To me family can be more than a biological tie, but a sense of connectedness. One that shares similar functions and resources. I don't believe that anyone has a completely functional family, and those that believe they do may not be functional to others. The chapter covers different statuses of American family trends such as divorced, remarriages, step families and helps to understand that the shape of a family is constantly changing.
Framework for Family Communication
This chapter discusses the process of communication and the patterns within family functions. Families not only develop images and themes but create boundaries as well. Most families experience boundaries between generations as well. For example, I've heard stories about how my grandma use to always invade my mom's personal space while she was growing up. This gave her the idea that personal belongings do not act as a boundary when it comes to the wellness of your children. However, I was punished for ease dropping, snooping, and sneaking around. These can all relate to the use of power, authority, and roles within the family.
Some of the major theories discussed in this chapter helped clarify that a family system consists of any factors that apply to a family's functions. Some characteristics of a family system are wholeness, interdependence, punctuation, and openness. Family's are not structured in any stable fashion, but within any system the parts are so interrelated as to be dependent on each other for their functioning. The chapter also discusses theories such as the dialectical and narrative theories which help describe the power of storytelling and family identity between tension. An interesting point they made was that "Common struggle in almost all relationships revolves around issues of closeness and distance."
Communication patterns and creation of family meanings.
It is through communication that family members construct and manage their everyday lives and create their own identity. This chapter overviews the formation of a family's culture and the development of those meanings through communication pattens such as family secrets, networks, stories and rules. Meanings within a family emerge over time through continuous interpretation and responses to messages. Rules within a family vary and can be maintained or changed through negative or positive feedback processes. Once the rules are established, changing them may be complicated and time consuming unless the family has a flexible adaptation process and recognize rules for what they are. The chapter also discusses how each factor influences the others and how they help shape a family.
Power, Influence and Decision Making
We define power by the way it is used to reduce or increase tension when individual family members interact with each other over goals or attempts to change behavior and the dimension of power within a family can vary greatly over time depending on the family structure, developmental stages, transitions, stresses, and the family's economical, cultural or intellectual resources. the chapter elaborates on the aspects of power in a family system by using McDonalds five resources that serve as bases from which power may derive from. They include normative, economic, affective, personal and cognitive resources. The chapter also goes into detail about influence and the different types of influence strategies that family members use to try to change or modify each others behavior or beliefs. The chapter also shows how communication plays a key role in determining the outcomes of family decision making and how the use of verbal and nonverbal signals affects decisions and may alter the cohesion and balance of a family's system
Communication and Family Roles and Types
In this chapter we learn that roles are inextricably bound to the communication process. We learn the specific role functions that can be applied to a family and how theses functions serve as a basis for necessary family roles. These are categorized as instrumental, affective, and mixed. An interesting part of this chapter was the Hochschild's marital ideology role types and how gender can affect parenting and the construction of the role of mother. Family typologies are also discussed and how perceptions of both parents can affect the parenting styles and how they influence family communication patterns and adolescent communication also affects these patterns.
Communication and Family Developmental Stresses
An interesting topic discussed in this chapter are the sources of family stress. Within a family different individuals experience and react to the same stressors differently depending on age and position in their life. The fact that past and present family stresses are affected further by all levels of the larger system in which the family operates. The chapter then goes into details about the stages and life courses of a family starting with leaving home. This particular stage recognizes the young adult coming to terms with his or her family of origin and separating or leaving home to enter a new cycle.
Family Communication and Unpredictable Stress
Stress involves a physiological response to stressors such as events or situations that are viewed as powerful negative or positive forces. How well a family copes depends on several factors that are discussed within the text such as the number of previous stressors the members had faced in recent years, the degree of role change involved in coping and the social support available to members and institutional support available to members. Stages of family crisis are also mentioned and shows how a family goes through a process in handling the loss, grief, or chaos that results upon the event. The chapter then branches off into sections that talk about different disruptions that can happen within a family such as divorce, illness, and addictions and how these stressors can alter a families system over a period of time.
Communication and Family Conflict
This was a very long chapter but I learned that the mere absence of conflict does not make a family function well. Family members who confront their differences can improve their relationships and accomplish more benefits that increase love and caring. The chapter defines conflict and the different types that can arise over many issues. By understanding how conflict develops and learning about the stages of the conflictual process I was able to realize how much inaccurate perceptions can create conflict where non exists and the degree to which participants feel they will be threatened or lose if the conflict continues. The chapter also discusses different factors and patterns in family conflict.
Family Communication and Well-Being
This chapter involves a lot of different aspects of health such as health status, behaviors, health care interactions and genetic risks and illness that can shape a family. The chapter then goes on to talking about approaches for improving family communication. I thought it was interesting that many people believe that life happens to them, giving them no sense of control or ability to improve on human relationships therefor they become reactors and take no responsibility for their part in the problem, or actors that believe they can make personal changes and co create constructive changes within their relationships. Although there is no absolute agreement on definitions of a well functioning family. The book defines well being as the families overall health, how well the family functions and how well the methods a family uses for improving communication.
Contextual Dimensions of Family Communication.
I learned that relationships and context are inseparable. Relationships cannot be understood outside the cultural norms and psychological processes that bind people together. The environment and people in it combine to form a communication system and certain factors such as proxemics and privacy, can affect communication within a family. This chapter digs in deep with the home, talking about exterior, interior and the neighborhood and how these environments can cause stress or influence interactions that occur within and around the home. I didn't realize that the structure, design and location of a home can affect the development of relationships between family members so much.
Closeness and intimacy within Families.
This chapter addresses relational maintenance and intimacy. Considering all the aspects of our lives that we attempt to maintain such as health, cars, gardens, money; relational maintenance involves keeping a relationship maintained. Such as marital maintenance, relationships face the same pressures such as health, work, children ect. Maintenance strategies help to promote relational resilience since they prevent relationships from decaying and help to repair troubled relationships. The chapter then discusses rituals and the variety of meaning and messages that cary meanings to certain people.