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Family Communication Exam 1 Notes

by: Emily Tall

Family Communication Exam 1 Notes COMM 40223

Marketplace > Texas Christian University > Communication Studies > COMM 40223 > Family Communication Exam 1 Notes
Emily Tall
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About this Document

These notes cover the information for the first exam. Each date marks a new class period (once weekly class).
Family Communication
Dr. Carr
Family Communication, comm studies, communication, Dr. Carr, tcu
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This 13 page Bundle was uploaded by Emily Tall on Friday January 29, 2016. The Bundle belongs to COMM 40223 at Texas Christian University taught by Dr. Carr in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 35 views. For similar materials see Family Communication in Communication Studies at Texas Christian University.

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Date Created: 01/29/16
▯ EXAM 1 NOTES ▯ 8/26/15 ▯ Voluntary Kin- Someone you select as family with no blood or marriage relation ▯ If “family” is so inclusive, do you think that makes family less special?  Just because someone is not family doesn’t mean they’re not important  What makes family unique? o Blood (sometimes) o Loyalty o Culture o Lawful o Non-voluntary o Shared history (anticipation of “future history”) o Unconditional love ▯ Why are they influential?  First lens to see the world (lenses of culture) o Thanksgiving stuffing! ▯ 7 Truths About Families?  1. Many ways to be a family  2. Communication constructs and reflects family relationships  3. Families communicate to create and share meaning  4. Families involve multigenerational communication processes  5. Families provide lens to see the world  6. Families reflect cultural communication patterns  7. Families put in effort to be a family ▯ ▯ 9/2/15 ▯ Summary Sentence- Family is defined individually through personal relationships and the cultural lens through which one sees their family. ▯ Why is Defining Family Important?  Defining family tells us who should be observed in family research  Defining family in clinical settings tells us about who contributes to family problems and solutions o If we don’t “count” certain people as part of a family unit, they can’t be part of the problem OR the solution  Our definition of family tells us who might/will be affected by family policy and intervention o What rights should biological parents have after their children have been adopted? ▯ Why is Defining Family so Challenging?  Operational vs. Conceptual definitions o Operational: defining the family as it is o Conceptual: defining the family as we think it “should be”  Conceptual definitions are bound by moral, political, and religious beliefs  Can you think of an example of how your definition of family is affected by your own beliefs?  Where do those beliefs come from?  Our families teach us about our families and what family should be  We both effect and reflect our families values ▯ So… What do we do?  Focus on value of definition, rather than validity  Realize that definition of family contextual and situational ▯ Three Lenses for Defining Family:  Biogenetic lens o Based on genes and reproduction o Comm? Not so important. o Objective, but ignores every other relationship that is NOT genetic/reproductive  Sociolegal lens o Based on legal ties o Comm? Not so important o Objective and clear, but doesn’t always capture our experiences  Role lens o Based on relationships, expectations, emotional attachment, patterns of interaction o Created/maintained through communication o Inclusive, but difficult to enforce, and not always intuitive ▯ Family as a Communication System  Individuals develop communication skills within the family context o Most of what we know about how to communicate comes from our family o Think about how you manage conflict, show love, make decisions ▯ The Family Communication Process  Family Communication: A symbolic, transactional process of creating and sharing meaning between and among members of a family  Symbolic o We use symbols to create meaning and messages o Goal is to create shared meaning  Meaning can be content or relational  Metacommunication  Transactional o Comm consists of mutual interaction o We affect others and others affect us = co-creation  Patterned o We respond to people based on our perception of that person o We change the content and style of out messages based on our perceptions, which becomes a pattern  Process o Families are continually changing because our family communication changes o Implications? We can change relationships because we can change communication patterns ▯ 9/9/15 ▯ Attachment Theory- Some Background Info  Infants rely on their primary caregiver (often their mother), as a “secure base” from which to explore the world  Attachment behavior is formed early in childhood, often before 12 months  Childhood attachment “styles” are generally enduring and translate into the way we behave in adult relationships o Although, there is some evidence that attachment styles can be changed over time, and security can be “earned” through other important relationships  Childhood attachment styles are determined through the “Strange Situation” test: o Child and primary caretaker are brought into an unfamiliar room. They play. Caretaker leaves briefly. Child’s distress is evaluated. Caretaker returns and attempts to comfort. Child’s response is evaluated.  Styles o Secure: Child is upset by parent’s absence AND easily comforted by their return o Avoidant: Child is somewhat upset by parent’s absence, but remains distant and sullen when they return o Anxious Ambivalent/ Resistant: Child is upset by parent’s absence, but is clingy and angry when they return. Resists comforting efforts  Styles developed based on IF parents respond and HOW they respond  Attachment in Adulthood o Perspective #1: Childhood attachment styles endure into adulthood  Attachment theorists argue these patterns remain constant and resurface in adult relationships  So, the way our primary caregiver related to us in the first year of our life dictates how we relate to others for the rest of our life o Perspective #2: Although attachment styles may be enduring for some, many people form attachment relationships with “important others” later in life ▯ Family Communication Patterns  Family communication patterns involve conversation and conformity orientation o Conversation: The degree to which a family promotes a climate where all members are encouraged to communicate about a wide variety of topics  Free sharing of ideas, concerns, and al participate in decisions o Conformity: The degree to which a family stresses a climate of similar attitudes, values, and beliefs  Hierarchical structure, family interests before individuals ▯ ▯ Protective Consensual ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Laissez-Faire Pluralistic ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Another way of thinking about families: The Circumplex Model of Family Functioning  Two dimensions: o Cohesiveness: the emotional bonding that family members have toward each other o Flexibility: the amount of change a family experiences in terms of its leadership, role relationships, and relationship rules and how well they are able to adapt  Communication: the component that aids or hinders movement along the other two dimensions o Clear, empathetic, and effective communication facilitate balanced cohesion and flexibility ▯ 9/16/15 ▯ Narrative Theory: An Overview  According to narrative theory, humans are “homo narrans;” we are story-telling creatures o We experience life in narrative form o We tell stories to ourselves and to others to help us cope with adversity, express our identity, and make sense of our world o In families, the stories we choose to tell (and how we tell them!) highlight and reinforce what is important about our family ▯ The Functions of Stories in Families  The content of family stories tell us about what values and ideals are important to our family  Other times, we tell and retell particular stories again and again o In this case, the process of telling a story is more important than its content  Families care enough to share the story with each other ▯ When are (Family) Narratives Most Influential?  Putting experiences into words in a way that is sequential and coherent help us to summarize what has happened and provide insight and meaning, especially with a difficult or upsetting experience  Telling a “story” about a challenging situation gives us a chance to make up a new ending (or at least, change the “moral” of the story”)  “Good” narratives should demonstrate narrative rationality  Narrative rationality has two components: o Coherence: Internal consistency  Do the people and events in the story seem to be of one piece? o Fidelity: external consistency  Does it make sense with our own experience and truth?  Does it provide good reasons to guide our future actions? ▯ Two Types of Narratives  Recounts: Provide a history, retells memories of experience o Often reinforces family values or identity  Accounts: Provides explanation or reasons for “bad” behavior o Explains why family members acted the way they did  Both reference important family experiences, but the intent is often different o Story of “how we met” vs. “why we divorced” ▯ Individual Family Narratives vs. Joint Family Storytelling  Individual family narratives teach family behavior, create family identities, and develop family culture o Provide insight into individual family relationships o Focuses on our own personal versions of our family  Joint family storytelling requires that at least 2 family members “co-author” the story of an event together o Jointly-told stories often change as listeners become part of the story o The process of jointly-telling a story provides information about the tellers’ relationship ▯ Family Storytelling and Difficult Family Experiences  Joint family storytelling is an important communicative activity for families dealing with difficult experiences o Family stress can disrupt shared beliefs; jointly telling stories can reinforce what is important to the family o Jointly-telling the story of a problem in a different way enables family members to change their attitude, outlook, and approach to stress because… o …Difficult life experiences are neutral. We decide if they positively or negatively affect our life by the way we make sense of them ▯ Koenig Kellas & Trees, 2006  Two Research Questions (p. 56) o RQ1: How do families interactively make sense of difficult family experiences during joint storytelling episodes? o The answers…  Family-unit sense-making: All 3 members contributed to telling and creating understanding acceptable to all members  Individual family member sense-making: One or 2 family members told stories that reflected individual insights  Incomplete sense-making: No real sense-making or conclusions at either family or individual level o RQ2: What specific interactional behaviors contribute to the sense-making process in jointly-told family stories about difficult family experiences?  Four sets of communication behaviors that help distinguish between the three types of sense-making  Engagement: verbal and nonverbal responsiveness; overall warmth and liveliness  Perspective-taking: asking about and valuing others’ perspectives, including others’ perspectives in telling  Turn-taking: telling the story in a segmented way or with interruptions, reminders, additions  Interpretation: the degree to which there was an integrated organized, coherent storyline ▯ Putting it all together…  Family-unit sense making: These families were very engaged, recognized varied perspectives and created space for them, members felt free to interject and fill in details, and one cohesive story emerged  Individual family member sense-making: These family members were somewhat engaged with each other, but less than in family-unit sense making. Members took turns telling the story in a more structured way, collaboration was more between 2 family members rather than all three.  Incomplete sense-making: These family members seemed disengaged when listening to others tell the story. Some decided not to add to others’ telling of the story. Recounted facts more than meanings ▯ Overview of Communication Privacy Management Theory (CPM)  CPM: How we make decisions of revealing or concealing private information, resulting in granting or denying access to others  Based on three principles o Ownership  We believe we “own” our private information  Sharing info with others results in co-ownership and a shift from individual to collective privacy boundaries o Control  We reveal or conceal private information based on cultural, gendered, risk/benefit, and contextual norms  When we share, our privacy boundaries become permeable (and we lose some control) o Turbulence and Privacy Breakdowns  When info is co-owned, we realize that we have different rules for sharing and disclosing private information  “It’s okay for me to tell others, but it’s not okay for you to tell for me!” ▯ What are Family Secrets?  Secret: Information purposefully hidden or concealed by one or more family members o Creating, keeping, and revealing secrets all shape a family’s interaction patterns o Secrets create and/or reinforce family boundaries  May be known to all family members but kept from outside world (whole family secrets), known to family subgroups (intrafamily secrets), or known only to one family member (individual family secrets)  What we consider to be a family secret (and who know that secret) may change over time o How would you describe a secret using the terms from CPM? ▯ Functions of Family Secrets  Bonding: Increases cohesiveness among those who share it  Evaluation: Helps to avoid negative evaluations of the family from the outside  Maintenance: Prevents outside pressure on family and protects from tension or stressors  Privacy: Seen as personal or irrelevant to others  Defense: Protects information from outsiders who may use it against family members ▯ ▯ 9/23/15 ▯ Power  Power does not belong to an individual; it exists in the relationship between two or more people o We must give up some power for someone else to have it  Includes three aspects: o Power bases o Power processes o Power outcomes ▯ Power Bases  Resources used by family members to exert control in a situation o Normative: Cultural/social definition of who has authority in the family o Economic: Breadwinner in family makes many financial decisions o Affective: Using influence on family members’ emotions to gain power o Personal: Characteristics of an individual (sense of humor, physical appearance) that increase power o Cognitive: Using logic and intelligence to determine what sources of power are available  Intellectual: children who are bilingual while their parents are unilingual ▯ Power Processes  Family communication practices that affect family discussion, arguments, and decision making, especially during crises  Includes the number of times family members talk, how long they talk, who they talk to, who talks to them o Family members who talk most frequently and for the longest period of time are most dominant. o Family members who receive the most communication are most powerful o Family members who are ill or dysfunctional are often at the center of family interaction although others talk about him/her as weak or helpless ▯ Children & Power  Children have less normative and economic resources, but can gain power in other ways o Keeping information (or sharing it) about siblings o Playing one parent against another o Forming an alliance with one parent o Forming an alliance with other family members ▯ What is Conflict?  An expressed struggle between two or more interdependent parties who have or perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving these goals ▯ How Family Conflict Differs From Interpersonal Conflict  Generally, families are not voluntary relationships o Children can’t choose parents o Family members can’t choose each other, BUT o Families are under pressure to stick together, SO  The “involuntariness” of families intensifies conflict o Grievances accumulate over time o If conflict isn’t truly resolved, it surfaces repeatedly  Family relationships are intimate and members are many things to each other o Economic partners, recreational companions, love, affection, support, encouragement, best friends, confidants  A family’s home feels “safe” and private, so conflict here often lacks restraint that one might have in other arenas  Average size of American families perpetuate sibling conflict (parents’ resources shared between 2 kids v. 10 kids)  Families change rapidly, creating constant potential for conflict as roles are renegotiated ▯ Conflict Styles  Review chart  Competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, accommodation ▯ The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse (Gottman)  Communication practices that sabotage attempts to communicate with your partner during conflict o Criticism  Complaint against the person o Contempt  Superiority combined with lack of respect o Defensiveness o Stonewalling  Refusing to talk about it anymore ▯ The Effect of Conflict  The presence or absence of arguments is not as important as the way you communicate during conflict  Couples and families who stay together: o Enter arguments gently o Avoid criticizing and blame o Stick to the issue at hand o Make repairs when they hurt each other  Family members who argue constructively: o Experience less depression and have stronger immune systems o Are more satisfied in their relationships o Have higher self-esteem and overall well being


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