The family chosen for the assessment consists of four members: husband, wife, and their two daughters. The extended family is not large as the husband’s parents live abroad and rarely visit. Both of the grandparents from the mother’s side live in a retirement home; however, the family sees them every week since the grandchildren are very attached to them.
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Regarding the family’s medical history, the husband, Mr. J, (aged forty) has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was thirty-five not only because of his poor lifestyle but also because it runs on the male side of his family, and his father, Mr. S (aged sixty-three) has also been diagnosed with the illness. Diabetes is considered a chronic illness that takes place when the insulin hormone cannot function properly and thus causes irregularities in blood sugar levels (World Health Organization, 2017). It has been reported that the number of people diagnosed with this chronic condition is continuously rising as it increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 (World Health Organization, 2017). It is important to mention that Mr. J’s chronic condition has contributed to some dramatic changes in his lifestyle (predominantly his diet) and therefore made him reevaluate his values and attitudes towards illness and health.
Mr. J’s mother, Mrs. K, (aged sixty-two) has struggled with hypothyroidism, which is a condition of an underactive thyroid gland, and even had to have several nodules removed (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017). On the wife’s, Mrs. S, (aged thirty-five) side, the health history is less complicated because both of her parents, Mr. D (aged sixty-five) and Mrs. L (aged sixty) have always lived a healthy lifestyle and taught their daughter to do the same. At the moment, the older daughter (aged thirteen) is struggling with severe acne associated with a hormonal imbalance while the younger one (aged ten) has not reported any health issues.
When it comes to sexual orientation, the younger daughter, M, has not been confronted with any discussions on this topic. The older one, L, identifies as a straight individual. The family is white and of European descent; there are some Swedish and German roots on the husband’s side while the wife has Russian heritage.
The family considers itself a typical representative of a middle class based on its income and the overall position in the society. Mr. J runs a small family business and is very successful in his work life. When asked about his attitudes towards work, Mr. J answered that he considered himself a workaholic who appreciates the opportunities he had been given. Mrs. S is a teacher by profession but has dropped the practice after having M. She indicated that missed being a teacher but doubted that she could return to teaching. At the moment, Mrs. S is a freelance consultant and provides advice to families with developmentally or behaviourally challenged children. This means that she can still work and help children but also have more free time to dedicate to her daughters, and since the family’s income allows for such a luxury, Mrs. S chose to be a part-time housewife and rely on her husband when it comes to making money.
Religion does not play any role in the family’s life; both parents consider themselves atheists and view holidays such as Christmas as social traditions and opportunities to spend time together. The family lives in a typical two-story house and owns a boat that they use for family fishing trips. Both girls go to a public school and do some extra-curriculum activities such as swimming. Overall, the family considers the environment in which they live as a positive factor that facilitates the girls’ growth as women and as active members of their community.
Family Developmental Stage
A stage of a family life cycle can be indicative of challenges that the family has to overcome through the development of new skills (“Family life cycle – topic overview,” 2017). At the moment, the family is at the parenting stage and is faced with challenges associated with children’s upbringing to move to the stage of launching adult children. A key emotional process of the parenting stage is effectively adapting children into other relationships (“Family life cycle – parenting: Babies through adolescents,” 2017). Both parents consider themselves successful in adapting their daughters because they have never reported any problems with friends and have never bullied or been bullied. The parents believe that communication is the key to positive relationships with their kids. Other tasks that are appropriate for the parenting stage include the provision of a “safe, loving, and organized environment.
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Children benefit when their parents have a strong relationship” (“Family life cycle – parenting: Babies through adolescents,” 2017, para. 7). Based on family dynamics, this task is considered to be accomplished because connections between parents and children are strong, and any issues that may arise are resolved through communication and collective problem-solving. When it comes to the attachment bonds within the family, the younger daughter spends more time with her father on weekends because she likes activities such as fishing and garden work. She feels comfortable discussing her friends with him and often comes for advice on homework or any other school affairs. The older daughter is closer to her mother as she can discuss such topics as friends and boys with her without the pressure of telling everything, which she has often experienced with her father.
The family’s genogram (including grandparents) is presented below:
Family Functional Status
When asked about their communication patterns, the family indicated that there could be some ups and downs in interactions, especially with girls. On the positive side, the family encourages open conversations about any topics; in particular, Mr. J likes educational conversations at the dinner table and enjoys reporting the latest news to his family. Another advantage of the communication patterns is that the girls rarely hide something from their parents; when there are any problems that they experience at school, they feel safe to express their opinions both verbally and non-verbally since they know that the parents will never judge them and offer advice or help. Therefore, the communication in the family is both verbal and emotional, which contributes to the strengthening of their relationships and the development of the family as a unit.
On the negative side, bringing up two girls and expecting continuous and effective communication is near to impossible, especially when emotions come in. There have been some instances when the older sister got jealous of her parents giving more attention to the younger sister, which resulted in tantrums and arguments. It has been hard to convince L that she is loved as equally as her sister M (Coleman, 2014). The parents encouraged their daughter to participate in more activities with her sister to strengthen their bonds and facilitate effective communication.
Another negative point that hinders family communication is associated with Mr. J’s chronic condition. Being diagnosed with diabetes, he has to follow a strict regime and a diet plan (e.g., consume high-glycemic foods, eliminate alcohol, monitor carbohydrate intake), which he has troubles following, especially at work (Gray, 2015). This leads to arguments with his wife who is extremely conscious of her health and always worries about her husband’s condition. The spouses try to resolve their disputes through verbal communication and holding each other accountable for their promises.
Problem Solving Procedures
As mentioned previously, communication is a vital point of the family’s interactions and how they deal with arising issues. They are proactive in their problem-solving and address matters head-on no matter how complex or unpleasant they may be. In some cases, crisis management is implemented, especially when it comes to their daughters who can be very emotional and overreact. When something like that occurs, the family usually gathers together and discusses ways to resolve the problem, taking into account perspectives offered by each family member.
As to problems with girls, the parents had sought professional advice since there was a period in their upbringing when they constantly argued, and the older sister felt betrayed by her parents for having another child. L had troubles with accepting a new member of the family as she was extremely spoiled with attention from her parents and grandparents. Visiting several appointments with a mental health specialist helped L manage her anger and negative feelings through acknowledging the fact that having a close sibling is something that would enrich her life and not complicate it.
Mrs. S has always taken a leading role in facilitating problem-solving and has encouraged the family to calm down before a problem is solved. In contrast to her husband, who may get often heated in a debate and lose control of his emotions, Mrs. S had always stayed rational and thus positively influenced situations when everyone got caught in their emotions. However, it cannot be said that the final decision is still up to Mrs. S because her husband usually has more power and influence in problem-solving.
Beliefs About Health and Illness
It should be mentioned that the different upbringing of Mrs. S and Mr. J regarding health and positive lifestyle habits have significantly contributed to their beliefs about health and illness. On the one hand, Mrs. S is a health conscious individual who practices yoga, meditation, and such dietary habits as detox diets and even fasting. She has held an opinion that health is something that people had to get under control by themselves since it many cases illnesses developed too far to be successfully eliminated by health care providers. On the other hand, Mr. J has been indulgent with his food choices despite having a fairly sedentary lifestyle. He has maintained an opinion that illnesses had only to be managed by doctors and no holistic practices such as exercise or diet changes were effective. This means that in the previous stages of their family life cycle, Mr. J and Mrs. S had to compromise in order to develop a lifestyle that could suit them both. After Mr. J’s diagnosis, the family has made some dramatic changes in their attitudes on illness and health to make sure that the girls live a healthy and happy life.
Coleman, D. (2014). My 11-year-old is so jealous of her little sister it’s causing us havoc. Independent. Web.
Family life cycle – parenting: Babies through adolescents. (2017). Web.
Family life cycle – topic overview. (2017). Web.
Gray, A. (2015). Nutritional recommendations for individuals with diabetes. Web.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Web.
World Health Organization. (2017). Diabetes. Fact sheet. Web.
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