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Family Genogram

Generally, my family’s background would be Christian and close-knit. Here, the relationships are tight and the members are in harmony. Though a divorce is present between my parents, their functioning as parents and grandparents is not strained towards me and my brother or to their grandchildren. I currently work as a counselor and my wife is working in the department of juvenile justice. This way, we are very in touch with other peoples’ feelings, especially to our kids. We tend to be empathic and sensitive towards our families.

As seen in the genogram, my family relationships are harmonious while there is much conflict in my wife’s family. Growing up, my father and mother were not as fortunate as my generation and were unable to finish college. This prepared me for the early part of my life which was not as abundant as it currently is. During my childhood, my mother and father struggled to put me and my brother through school, and, most importantly, college. My mother and father would always tell us when we had decided to get married that a harmonious relationship always meant giving and taking to one another (with your spouse).

However, they had divorced when me and my brother were in college, which upset me and my brother a lot. They then explained that they had grown distant from each other and that living together was becoming too hard for them. According to them, all their life they struggled to provide for me and my brother that somehow they had grown tired and wanted to do other things. However, they had also seen that these ‘other things’ often did not include the other and that their own selves had become more important than their spouse. They had hidden their desires from each other and even from their children.

Apparently, though they were feeling immense strain in their relationship because of supporting two children, they continued to stay together for our sake. Once my brother and I were older, though, they decided that it was time to be true to their feelings and separate. Though at the beginning, this upset me and my brother very much, our age and experiences and education as college students helped us understand that this divorce was for the betterment of the whole family. Both my mother and my father wanted to be able to live freely and decide for themselves what they wanted without another person tying them down.

Since my brother and I were older and capable of understanding them as adults, they had asked us for permission and much understanding. They explained how it was getting suffocating and that they were only trying to make it feel like a family for me and my brother. After a while, seeing how my parents had become happier and more friendly to each other did I understand how much they needed the divorce so that they would be able to function as themselves. They were not hostile to one another or had any misgivings about it, they just needed to feel free and do what they wanted.

A large part of this issue had been the fact that we had come from such a strong Christian background. Trying to reconcile this with the divorce was difficult, but seeing and realizing that staying together would only end up in them resenting each other and us, relationships had become far more important than the Christian background. By far, this would be the most relevant issue that had plagued my family and after that, nothing more. Relationships continued to flourish even now as my brother and I have our own families. My wife’s family, on the other hand, has some strained relationships.

To my knowledge, her parents did not have the chance to finish college. They had more children, and were unable to send some of their children as well. This may have produced the strained relationships as her parents are apparently obligating those who were able to go to college to support those who did not. The strained relationships in their family apparently come from financial concerns of the parents and the children who were not able to go to college. In her family’s culture, it is the obligation of the children to support parents and less-fortunate brothers and sisters.

Unlike my own, where no one was ever obligated to do anything, my wife and her more fortunate siblings had begun to resent that fact. To my wife, she thinks that her parents had provided for her only so she could provide for them in the future. Until now, as her parents and her other siblings obligate her, she continues to feel stress and anger towards them. In the context of the multigenerational family, I understand that different cultures and perceptions clash. As always, when beliefs and perceptions clash or are different across individuals, conflict ensues.

The normal elements of family relationships such as which person holds power, the mode of decision-making are then expanded and though, and it would seem like no one would hold all the power at any one time. As for myself, I could see that within a multigenerational family, the part of ‘getting along’ would be the most prevalent concern of all adults and that the children would not feel any animosity or discomfort the second. Having both generations come from Christian backgrounds, it would help me assume that they would be mostly traditional in their perceptions.

Adding to this their flexibility to change, it may be deduced that my side of the family are more flexible and wont to interpret their religious background in more ways than my wife’s family. Indeed, the flexibility that a family allows for changes in its beliefs and structure is key in surviving tough times and difficult problems. Also, from my wife’s experience, I saw that communication is almost as important as flexibility for change. Seeing as the way her parents obligates her to support them and she does not question them or answer back.

The lines of communication here are only functioning in one direction, and the fact that my wife does not want to open up another direction in the line of communication perpetuates her stress and frustration. Also, her twin sister and her brother are also feeling the same as her, that it was unfair to be obligated. Thus they would constantly discuss their stress and frustration, but their discussion would never reach their parents or their other siblings. At times, it would begin to look like they were forming a side which they concluded was ‘right’ and that their parents and their other siblings were on the ‘wrong’ side.

What I would deduce from the situation with my wife’s family is that this was the trend throughout the generations. The parents would bring up their children in order for their future to be secured, instead of what my family valued as ‘bringing up the children so they can support themselves’. Though I may want to give counsel to my wife’s family, it is still her prerogative to handle this situation on her own. However, it is my fear that the situation will continue even to the children of her less fortunate siblings.

Seeing as how religion and tradition somehow shape our family’s relationship, it may be said that these play a large role in family functioning and development. These provide framework for most family functions, especially socialization of children, and thus the same values are transmitted generation after generation (Nichols, 2000). There is always possibility of a change in values over the years, but the transition would not be easy. Looking at the family from a systems point of view, the exchange of resources (in this case, values and beliefs) would essentially happen within a closed system during the early years.

Only when the child would perhaps be immersed in society that the values and beliefs would be layered with other values and beliefs, but mostly only to contrast with his or her own. Another consideration in this matter would be the educational background of the family. At times, having higher education would mean being exposed to more paradigms and beliefs, which, may inadvertently, change one’s own depending upon the receptiveness of the individual and his or her openness to change.

With this, it might be said that the fact my wife’s other siblings and her mother and father did not have a college education was a great factor in their difference in opinions about being obligated. As a counselor, understanding contexts and family backgrounds are of utmost importance. Realizing the meaning behind all the idiosyncratic aspects of a family is key to be able to establish good family therapy (Slee, 2002). One must be able to evaluate numerous factors and examine things beyond the lines of communication and the structure of power.

These elements are essentially in place because of backgrounds that may extend for numerous generations beforehand. It is still difficult for me to help my wife in this matter because of the different set of values that I have and have been brought up with. Personally, I would think that my intrusion on the matter involving her family would be objectionable and akin to meddling, thus I refrain myself. Having different values and perceptions does a lot to cloud a family’s relationship and I am afraid that my intrusion would be unwelcomed.

This assignment has in some ways made me understand my family and appreciate them more, and at some length, frustrate me as well. Concerning my side of the family, this assignment has helped me understand my parents more and be thankful for them. It has also made me glad that they got a divorce, even if it was a strange way of going about being civil with each other and maintaining a good relationship. It has also frustrated me in that it reminds me how difficult it is to help my wife in her strained relationship with her family.

Though a counselor, being her husband would undoubtedly elicit reactions that would infuse personal interests to my concern. I only hope to be able to provide advice and comfort to my wife in this time and to help her understand her parents, even if I am unable to help them understand her. Bibliography SLEE, Phillip T. Child (2002). , Adolescent and Family Development (Second Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press, Nichols, W. (2000). Handbook of Family Development and Intervention. New York: Wiley.

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