Family Comm 370
How elements work together to produce outputs from the various inputs they are given.
Levels include: Supra-system, System, and Sub-system.
Family is not just the individuals within it, acting in isolation. You can’t just study the individual because you want multiple perspectives of a family dynamic. There are differences in some parts.
Family must be experienced as an entirety to understand the various differences each individual has to make up the entire family dynamic.
Ex: daughter has an eating disorder. Father is glad she is receiving help and treatment because she needs it, but the rest of the family needs it as well. They need to know that she’s going to be okay because the eating disorder is not just isolated to the daughter as a problem, but rather, it affects the entire family.
Much like the domino effect or ripples in a pond. Negative behavior of one person affects every other family member.
Ex: teenagers who have type 1 diabetes sometimes don’t feel like checking their blood-sugar levels, which drives their parents crazy. The teenager’s behavior is affecting the parents’ mood, which in turn affects the teen’s mood/attitude, which in turn affects everyone’s mood and health.
Ex: if a family member is addicted to something, the identity of the family is at risk, so other family members may try to “fix” or “manage” the problem on their own, rather than seeking alternative help and feedback because they don’t want to be embarrassed or destroy their identity. Not seeking feedback is detrimental to the family. (Think of Jacob and his family)
Ex: you get stuck in a caregiver role which you were not expecting but you take it on anyways. Then you realize that you are having a difficult time managing the caretaker role with all the other stuff going on in your life.
Ex: Family runs into financial issues. They are used to spending a lot and being “set” money wise but now they have to consolidate and spend less which may hurt their relationship.
Ex: expressing affection in different ways. Parents who are perfectionists and don’t let children succeed in their own way (like chinese parents)
Ex: Science projects. you can tell which parents did the projects for their kids and which parents let their kids do the project on their own.
Ex: very similar to interdependence. If a father is addicted to alcohol, this may affect his children’s addiction or behavioral habits in the future. The kids may become addicted to alcohol like their father, to “ease” the pain that their father’s addiction brought on, or the kids may shy away from drinking altogether as it was a negative thing they experienced as a child.
Argues that the bond with the primary parent (mother) from birth is our primary attachment that is relatively stable across our lifespan.
An evolved behavioral system that motivates infants to seek proximity to care-givers in times of stress.
Ability to form intimate relationships/attachments is essential to personal and relational health.
Develop “internal working models”
Child= Positive self-worth, affectionate, able to handle ups and downs.
Impacts on Communication: friendly, affiliative, moderate disclosure.
Satisfaction in Married Couples: acknowledge distress and seek social support.
Child=Unworthy of love; others not loving; afraid of committment– fear that person won’t be there or stay with them, fear of getting hurt emotionally.
Impacts on Communication: Anxiety or fear of rejection in communication. Needs reassurance.
Satisfaction in Married Couples: Intense negative emotions and less frequent and intense positive emotions. Insecure. More likely to show heightened awareness and expression of negative feelings, learned as a way of maintaining contact with inconsistent caregivers.
Child= Views others as unworthy of their love– relationships as undesirable, distancing, lack of commitment– too independent.
Impacts on Communication: unmotivated to maintain intimacy. Lower involvement.
Satisfaction in Married Couples: Having experienced rejecting and insensitive caregiving, tend to hold back their emotions in order to prevent a conflict with their partner– predicts marital satisfaction. Insecure.
Child= Positive view of others, negative view of self. Low self-esteem, absorbed with relationship, always feels the need to be in a relationship.
Impacts on Communication: Highly affiliative, too much disclosure/emotions.
-Based upon management of private info.
-Builds upon dialectal theory and systems theory. (Dialectal tension of openness and closeness. Levels of boundaries–but notion of boundaries is different.)
-Revealing info is risky–vulnerability (Expose self, potentially hurt relationship. Because revealing info is risky, people construct metaphorical boundaries around themselves).
-Boundary Structures (who is and who is not allowed to access info. Metaphorical boundaries that ebb and flow depending on the degree of risk revealing information).
-Rule Management Systems (decision rules to monitor flow of info. What info will be revealed to who and when).
People manage private info because it can make you vulnerable. The idea is that people own private info and it makes you vulnerable because their are risks involved if it is disclosed. So people create boundaries around themselves so the greater the risk, the tighter the boundaries become.
Extremely selfish view because it’s based on what’s best for self.
Based on personal motives–not what’s fair/equitable.
Also depends upon comparisons to others.
All about equity. Looks at both people involved in relationship, rather than making it just “all about me”.
Determined by comparing ratio of contributions and benefits.
Overbenefitted, Underbenefitted, Equitable
Think about the lazy roommate. The lazy roommate is benefitting. they are sitting there watching you do the dishes. They should feel guilty, but sometimes people don’t feel guilty.
You don’t feel appreciated or you feel under-appreciated because you are giving so much to your partner but they aren’t giving enough to you.
Basically taking our own relationship and judging it with the standard of what we believe we deserve in a relationship.
-The lowest level of outcomes a person will accept in a relationship in light of availible opportunities in other relationships.
-The greater the outcomes exceed the CL-Alt (or what you get out of a relationship), the more committed to the relationship.
-Deals more with commitment and dependence power.
-If perceived to have a lot of alternatives, commitment will lessen.
-If few alternatives available, or you don’t want any alternatives, then commitment will be greater.
The greater the rewards, the fewer the costs, the more stable your relationship is.
-Girls taught to be assertive and direct.
-Tend to be matriarchal, but somewhat authoritarian.
-Collectivism– group oriented families.
-Patriarchial and authoritarian– traditional gender roles.
-Strong emphasis on getting married and having children and a young age.
-High PD and High Context
-Everything is about the family/group– high expectations but also highly avoidant.
-Low PD– equality in roles
-Partners and friends=support (Low UA)
-Strong sense of self (individualistic)
-More affectionate than parents that are heterosexual.
-Value: initiative and dissent
-Loyalty to self/immediate family
Ex: many current day americans are like this. Very self-oriented, less reliant on family for care.
-Loyalty to extended family and society.
-Putting family needs before your own.
Ex: coming out as gay is often shameful and damaging to the family and their identity.
-Less comfortable being told what to do
-Less accepting of inequality
-We as americans tend to be this dimension
-More of a democracy. People share their ideas freely, don’t like being told what to do.
Ex: Equal gender roles in parenting, money-making, etc.
-More comfortable giving directions to others
-Accepting of inequality
-Family power–other countries
Ex: father authoritatively leads family, followed by eldest son. Using the phrase “ma’am” or “sir” in the south.
-Emphasis on verbals
-You’re not drawing from the context as much because people are drawing from the words being said.
-If you know me well enough, you shouldn’t have to ask.
Ex: think of black girls–taught to be very direct and assertive “it is what it is”
-Emphasis on non-verbals.
Ex: You should know what I want. You should know the rules.
-More accepting of dissent
Ex: The US is becoming this dimension. Accepting of gays (change), valuing differences, but not always valuing uncertainty.
-Strong need for consensus
Ex: Chinese families need straight-forwardness.
-People seek rewards and try to avoid punishments.
-Children often grow up and acquire basic values and personal habits by observing parents’ behavior, and later, the behavior of admired friends and reference groups. (Ex. often same political views as parents).
-Similarity between model and the observer: the more similar the model is to the observer, the more likely the observer is to enact the modeled behavior.
-Modeling is most successful when their are multiple models (3 family members are avid tennis players, the observer will most likely adopt the same love for tennis).
-Also keep in mind this explains the many functional/disfunctional aspects of family interaction (i.e. divorce taken in by children, addiction, etc.)
Processes/factors: attention, retention, reproduction, motivation
-Retention: remembering what the model did is a condition for imitating the model’s behavior.
-Reproduction: people must have the capacity (e.g. skills) for imitating the behavior.
-Motivation: people must be motivated to imitate behavior (e.g. importance of model or reward).
2. Explaining connections to others
3. Legitimizing our connections
4. Defending our connections
2. Discussing our lives and decisions
3. Narrating our identities
4. Ritualizing to tend to emotional business
2. Normal families as average (typical or not unusual)
3. Normal families as optimal
4. Normal family processes (contemporary)
-dynamic homeostasis: how things operate, usually the same
-interdependence: 1 part affects the whole system
-open/closed systems: input/output
-self-regulating: loops, bring back traditions
-equifinality: more than 1 way to be a family
2. Connected- emotional independence
3. Cohesive- togetherness
4. Enmeshed- extreme closeness
2. Structured- some change, stable roles
3. Flexible- high change, shifting roles
4. Chaotic- high change, no leadership
3. Stability/change (managed in family through comm)
*No either/or, but both/and
2. Evolving modes of interaction into central family themes
3. Establishing boundaries of the family’s world of experience
4. Managing significant biosocial issues of family life, such as gender, age, power, and roles
-Internal and external
2. Language is viewed as critical to human society, therefore, conversation serves to maintain reality
1. Think/act according to meaning they attribute to actions
2. Motivated to create meanings to help them make sense of the world
*emphasis on social roles
2. Segmentation- separate tension
3. Neutralizing- diluting intensity of contrasting poles
4. Cyclic alternation- choose one pole or other (different times)
5. Reframing- transforming perceptions to see less difference
1. Structural coherence
2. Material coherence
3. Characterological coherence
1. Honest & plausible
2. Resonates with listeners
6. Risk/reward ratio
Chain: – – – – – –
Y network: Y
2. Expectations are followed by behaviors
3. Responses to behaviors and expectations occur
4. Rules are changed or reinforced
– Constitutive rules: what counts as what
– Regulative rules: prescribe appropriate behavior
– Essential: necessary (finances, “mom & dad” things)
– Toxic: draining (alcoholism, drugs, infidelity)
– Dangerous: abuse, suicide threats
– Evaluation: negative judgement
– Maintenance: stay close
– Privacy: nunya
– Defense: protect family
– Communication: limit openness
– To create belonging/identity
– To teach expected behavior
– To develop family culture
– To provide stability of generations
– To entertain
1.) Keeping the relationship in existence (save it)
2.) Keeping the relationship in a specific state (status quo)
3.) Keeping the relationship satisfactory (always improve)
4.) Keeping the relationship in repair (scheduled maintenance)
Communication is the core of RM
Routine – you are use to standing up and doing the dishes
Strategic – you have thought ahead and wanted to give a gift to someone for a special reason
The strategies can be used in any relationship
– Importance and intensity vary
What is the “5 to 1 ratio”?
– 5 positive messages for every 1 negative message
Openness – explicitly discussing relationship and sharing thoughts/feelings “simply tell him/her how I feel about the relationship”
Assurances – messages of affection, support, commitment “stress my commitment to him/her”
Networks – Family and friend activities “focus on common friends and affiliations”
Tasks – Fair share of work “help equally with tasks at hand, don’t shirk duties”
The other three included to make it 8, Understanding, Relationship talks, self-disclosure
Highly complicated family structure requires more RM
(Shift through the life-cycle. Parents take care of kids, kids and parents together, then kids take care of parents)
The extent of the long term bond for siblings depends on the RM efforts
Myers, et al. (2001) found siblings use shared tasks most and openness last
Greater liking = more use of RM (5 core behaviors)
Overall Research Findings (Myers, 2001)
1.) female siblings use RM more than males
2.) intimate siblings use RM more than congenial (similar, not super close, but not distant) or apathetic (not super close)
3.) level of psychological closeness (how distant you perceive your sibling, are you close or not) changes use of RM (early to mid adulthood)
4.) more strategic than routine use of RM
Four Criteria (Sieburg, 1973)
1.) Acknowledge existence of other person
2.) Affirming by responding relevantly
3.) Reflecting and accepting the other’s self-experience
4.) Suggesting a willingness to become involved
RM Strategies Confirmation
– Willingness to be involved with the other “I Miss you”, “Nice boots”
– Interactive involvement between two or more “What do you think?”
– Allows others to be themselves “working to understand other’s perspective” “Can you explain a little more?”
Supporting another’s choice, values, and actions.
– Horizontal relationship with respect and treating the other with value
– Thoughtful, considerate, and designed to ‘lift up’ another
Family Rituals: conscious repetition of actions and words that creates meanings
Range from cultural connections to family specific to everyday behaviors
1. Family Celebrations (cultural norms, Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner)
2. Family Traditions (unique to the family, Grandmother teaching granddaughter to bake)
3.) Patterned Family Interactions (everyday, who makes breakfast in the morning, we all pray together as a family)
1. couple time
2. Idiosyncratic/symbolic (private codes or rituals)
3. daily routines/tasks
4. intimacy expressions
5. communication (couple talk time)
6. Patterns/habits/mannerisms (side of bed)
7. Spiritual (religious needs)
Ceremonials involve elaborate preparation and several rituals
Negative rituals: difficult to identify due to low self-report.
– Alcoholic members, partner abuse, incest, verbal mistakes
Negative ritual: kids watering down the liquor so their parents don’t get too drunk)
– the meanings can strengthen or weaken the relationship
Arise from family of origin patterns
Currencies can be direct statements or require more interpretation
Ex: wickie wacky cake – gives her husband a cake to show she is happy.
Types: positive verbal statements, self-disclosure, listening, nonverbal affect displays, touch, sexuality, aggression, gifts, money, food, favors, service, staying in touch, time together, access rights.
Without common meanings, we feel rejected or taken for granted
Routine currencies can become strategic (holding a hand to get out of a fight)
1. Close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship.
2. Detailed and deep knowledge and understanding (a familiar experience)
3. Sexual relations
1. Close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship.
2. Detailed and deep knowledge and understanding (a familiar experience)
3. Interpersonal devotion along intellectual, emotional, and physical dimensions.
What are the 2 types of commitment? Moral (obligation to partner) and Structural (barriers to leaving or absence of alternatives)
Constraints: factors that keep people together regardless of devotion – finances, religion, values, family & social pressures, children, pets.
Intensity (asserting firmly), Repetition (reaffirming the phrase), Explicitness (reduces misunderstandings), and Codification (explicit comm/love letters, written rules)
Self Disclosure involves risk, but intimacy develops when the “other” is responsive.
– Inter-subjectivity: Communicator’s access to each other’s thoughts and feelings.
A verbal or nonverbal response is necessary to convey validation, understanding and caring
Trust: the emotional basis where emotional safety allows you WANT to self-disclose.
Mental Love Maps: Self-disclosure creates the maps to permit access to deeper parts of his/her life.
Too much or too little or negative disclosure can result in higher levels of conflict, hurt, and anger.
Partner responsiveness is linked to satisfaction and development of relationships
Agreements on whether and how to share to others, Ex: Infertility.
– mothers typically receive more self-disclosure
– parent perceived as nurturing and supportive receive more
Smaller families usually remain more interconnected (all members connected)
Moving away used to mean reduced interaction. Why has this changed? Technology?
– gives a good framework to discuss riskier topics
– leads to higher marital satisfaction
Breaking privacy boundaries leads to reduced disclosure
Sibling disclosures increases as children age and learn to share significant feelings as well as protect confidence
Boundaries and Disclosures have direct links to family levels of cohesion and flexibility
Sexually healthy adult partnerships require more than just physical performance:
– sexual identities, history of sexual issues, mutual perception of each other’s needs, feelings for their partner, messages within sexual expressions, & nature of sexual communication.
— These characteristics influence overall sexual patterns and the day to day expressions you have with your partner.
Open communication is critical for both individuals.
Monological & Dialogical Sex
Monological Sex – one or both partners attempt to satisfy only their personal needs
Dialogical Sex – concern and sharing of pleasure (requires effective sexual communication). They are able to discuss issues, feelings, frequency, techniques, and avoid mind reading.
Sexual Comm early in the relationship does not predict future Sexual Communication (aging, health concerns, stress, loss, etc.)
“For couples desiring an intimate relationship, open and direct communication about sexuality may deepen their intimacy even during times of struggle”
– These discussions are occurring more frequently now, why? Due to Greater society openness, media treatment of sexuality, concerns for sexual health, higher levels of parent willingness to discuss it.
Mother discuss more frequently than fathers and more often with daughters.
Mother-daughter discussions on condoms report more consistent use.
Fathers discuss resisting pressures and understanding men, when talking to daughter.
Effective Parent-Child Communication about Sex: (Warren & Neer)
– Satisfaction with family discussion about sex is dependent on mutual dialogue (child and parent involvement)
– The ability to communicate supportively about sex revolves around an attitude of openness. Talk with, not at.
– For greater impact, start discussing early and often (before 16)
– Children model the patterns found in their homes and will be similar with their partner.
Sexually Neglectful Families: Sex is seldom or never addressed
Sexually Abusive Families: Perpetrator – victim interaction pattern with limited communication.
Sexually Healthy Families: Respect both genders, boundaries are appropriate and supportive, effective and flexible communication, shared system of culturally relevant values.
Effort: Required because many factors compete for attention in life (work, school, families, etc.)
Sacrifice: Choosing to give up something in order to benefit another person
Forgiveness: Relational process in which harm is acknowledged by one or both parties; the harmed party extends mercy to the transgressor, one or both experience a transformation from a negative to positive state and the relationship is reconciled.
– Some view this as a sign of affection.. can turn violent or obsessive and create barriers to intimacy.
– Trust is a hallmark of intimacy and deception violates this expectation.
– Reciprocal roles (you can’t be a dad without a child, sibling without another sibling)
Choosing to enact one role may impact ability to enact another role (e.g., women in the workforce)
What is a superdad? involved in a lot of different aspects. Goes to work, plays with kids, does the housework and cooking, etc. Do we need a superdad title or isn’t that just what we expect out of being a parent/adult. There is no term for supermom, but we have one for dads.
“Good son” “Bad Mother”
–What exactly is a good son or bad mother?
Informed by cultural expectations
Reflect an imagined view of yourself
What are the differences in messages men and women receive about work and family?
Have these messages changed? Stayed the same?
– Done in conjunction with others to give meaning to the roles
How do the roles of husband and wife change when a child is born?
– Research shows it goes from 50-50 to household chores to 70-30 household chores once the kid is born. Old days: men work form sun up to sun down, women’s work is never done.
Role Conflict: when others have different expectations of the way a person should perform a role.
2. Providing nurturing and emotional support
3. Providing for individual development
4. Providing for kinship maintenance & family maintenance
5. Providing basic resources
Three Part Process: role expectations, role enactment, role negotiation
– 8 significant factors that affect role enactment
3 Couple Types:
– Traditional: conventional belief system
– Separates: maintain distance
– Independents: autonomous but share
– Mixed: Combination of the 3 types
~ 60 percent pure, 40 percent mixed.
~~20% traditional, 17% separate, 22% independent
Post Gender Couples: Moved past gender, not based on gender expectations “Dad, Mom, and kids all working on dinner”
Gender Legacy Couples: Do not recognize but default to gender stereotypes
Traditional Couples: Use gender as the conscious method “we share the work, I make the messes she cleans it up”
– does not belong to an individual
– negotiated in a relationship between 2 or more people
What are some factors that influence power within the family structure? Income, gender, culture, education
1. Normative: family values & cultural/societal
2. Economic – monetary control
3. Affective – relational currencies the family nurtures
4. Personal – individual characteristics
5. Cognitive – intelligence to gain power
* No family member possess all 5 equally or uses all in a situation/certain person
– effective communicators (influence, persuasion & assertiveness)
– Non verbal’s (The Look parents give to kids, standing over someone else like a boss’ setting)
– Ill or dysfunctional members – alcoholic family members. They tend to control the family due to their uneasiness, no one wants to make them upset or violent.
Syncratic: shared authority and joint decision making
Autonomic: divide authority for equal but different areas
1. Authoritarian: Demanding, directive, & non-responsive (the dictator)
2. Permissive: undemanding, non-directive, & responsive (the friend)
3. Authoritative: demanding, directive, & responsive (the mentor)
– Uses interpersonal compliance seeking messages (Influence Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini, Foot in the Door, Door in the face Strategies)
Certain influence strategies are more likely to be used in specific situations.
– Again, foot in the door, door in the face.
– 11 different strategies (in class Direct Requests, Bargaining, Hinting, were the top 3 influences)
– Whole family or family subgroups
– Instrumental (where we go to dinner, every day decisions) or Effective (are we going to church, will we help that poor man)
– Developed a highly predictable DM style over time
— Which parent to ask for permission
Power, influence and decision making are closely tied together in families.
2.) Accommodation: Consent to the decision. Not because agreeing but see additional discussion as being unproductive
3.) De Facto Decisions – without direct family approval (mom makes an executive decision on what kids get for Christmas)
The Problem Solving Loop – shaped like an upside down breast cancer ribbon (page 200)
– the process may be short circuited at any point
– a family may reach a decision by skipping steps
– it may be hard to figure out which phases are being used in the decision-making process
– some families tend not to follow steps in problem-solving
– Gender Influences
– Individual involvement
– Outside Influences
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