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HDFS 1070 Week 2 Notes

by: Victoria Tabacchini

HDFS 1070 Week 2 Notes HDFS 1070

Victoria Tabacchini
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These notes cover part of what is going to be on our first exam.
Individual and Family Development
Ronald Sabatelli
Class Notes
HDFS, 1070, UCONN, ronald, sabatelli
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Victoria Tabacchini on Thursday February 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HDFS 1070 at University of Connecticut taught by Ronald Sabatelli in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 50 views. For similar materials see Individual and Family Development in Human Development at University of Connecticut.


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Date Created: 02/04/16
The Family as a Context 1/27/16 and 1/29/16 Lecture Notes Defining Features of a Family  Shared sense of history  Emotional bonding (the emotional legacy of the family) o Becomes part of the system that personally influences you o Both positive and negative (makes families unique from one another)  There are negative emotional bonds too  Each family has different tasks o Strategies for meeting the needs of the family members (makes us all unique) o Ex. A family where no meals are provided as apposed to a family with meals at a fixed time every day  Family is the first significant other(s) in an individual’s life 2 Central Dimensions Which Define a Family  Family composition (ex. Divorced, single parent)  Family dynamics What Makes Today’s Families Unique:  More diverse in terms of composition  Remarriage rates are more common than divorce rates  Out of wedlock birth rates o 80% are mothers who are in their 20s and 30s o 20% of babies born last year were out of wedlock  Cohabitation rates have gone up while marriage rates have gone down  There is now a cultural acknowledgment and tolerance/acceptance of gay/lesbian relationships and marriages Family Systems Theory  Why the system’s metaphor? o The family operates as if it were a system. It is defined by the relationship among the parts. Relationships among the parts is the most important aspect.  Structural properties of families o Wholeness: the sum of the parts  Ex. The relationship between the mother and father o Organizational complexity: there are different subsets of extended families  Ex. How much communication is there between the grandparents and parents and/or children? o Interdependence: a change in one part of the family system has to change the entire system or affect it in some ways. Everyone is mutually influencing one another. o Strategies, Rules, Customs: ex. Assigned seats at the dinner table o Tasks: interdependent to the properties above 2 types of Family System Tasks  First-order tasks: involve the family developing strategies to meet the task o Ex. Identity tasks, boundary tasks, maintenance tasks and managing the emotional climate  Second-order tasks: adjusting how the strategies are executed There is a Complex Array of Identity Tasks  Family themes: become part of who you are and make your family unique o Reflected in ethnic or racial identities o Resources and themes: if don’t conform, a bit of an outlaw  Time  Energy  Money (ex. Money spent on private school reflects the family’s importance on education)  Critical personal images o Family myths: you are categorized but not really part of that categorization o Confront myth when going against it (ex. Always called smart by parents when in actuality you know and express that you are just an average student) o Main reason why people are cut off/cut themselves off from the family: because of tension around myths and family images  Bio-social tasks: are modeled to you by your parents o Gender o Sexuality Boundary Tasks  These are so critical because of the legacy that comes from them o External boundaries  Open vs. closed: existing on a continuum (one end is low boundaries- family is very private and closed off to relationships with ousiders. The other end is open- open to outsiders, no distinction between inside and outside relations, free to share information with outsiders about the family, outsiders are just as influential as the family… if an extreme open case, there is no “family”)  Closed: only family members are significant others, outsiders are not to be trusted. If family your cant provide something to you, then no one can. (Ex. Want to play the piano but your family doesn’t own one, then you have no other choice but to not play it because of boundaries)  All families have to deal with hardships. External boundaries have to do with how families cope with stressful events. Families that cope best with stressful events have 2 characteristics:  1- they are capable of seeking out social support from inside and outside the family  2- they are open to collecting information that is necessary for them to manage the situations that they’re in  Legacy of external boundaries: coping with social support from the outside o Internal boundaries  Regulating the connections among the family members  Exist on a continuum of enmeshed and disengaged  Enmeshed: people are over involved with one another. There is a high degree of connection at the expense of autonomy and independence. (Ex. When you are upset, the family is upset. When you need to do things, they monitor you on how you are doing them)  Extreme case: opportunities for autonomy are limited because of people’s over involvement with you (ex. 3 grader has a problem in school with another kid. The parent calls the school and the parent of the other child and then takes the child out of school; the child therefore doesn’t learn how to deal with situations on their own)  Over involvement communicates to the child that they are not component enough in doing ordinary tasks by themselves  Disengaged: people are disconnected and not involved in any appropriate way with one another. The child is on their own and free to do whatever they want- but that freedom is at the expense of any meaningful emotional connections to others (you are autonomous at the expense of connection)  In a true disengaged family, the child can’t trust that people will be there to support them when support is needed. They basically feel that if they have a problem no one will care. The child also feels that they don’t matter and come to the conclusion that they cant trust people who are supposed to help and support them.  Relatively Balanced: families usually fall between enmeshed and disengaged families. Boundaries get constructed in certain ways, even with certain relationships- mother may be more enmeshed with you than other siblings. Important not to think of these boundaries as characteristic of the whole family. It is within the relationships in the family. Maintenance Tasks: Running a household. All families have customs regarding meals, chores, laundry, finances, and management. The physical environment that is mismanaged spills over into our lives. (Ex. Some parents hyper-regulate what you eat while others don’t at all. Meals themselves create an emotional climate- how they eat and relate to one another during meals)  Housekeeping o Under-organized: ex. mealtime comes and its 7 pm and the parents don’t even know what they are going to eat. o Over-organized: if your family is over organized, there are rigid rules around everything you have to do in the household- stifles creativity.  Finances o How money should be used in a household. What is the permissible use of money?  makes the environments different  Ex. Some families spend money of recreation while others can never waste money, to the extent of repairing things on their own when they clearly need a professional. o When you marry someone you have different rules with household and finances. Problems can occur when you merge systems. What is communicated through the strategies for the execution of these household tasks?  Gender refers to how we should act given if we are a male or female according to society and family  Men in society: it is stereotyped that men cannot cook or clean  because they grew up in a family where their mother did everything for them. Men who can do those things come from a family where the father was role inappropriate (he actually cooked and cleaned). Managing the Emotional Climate  The bi product of all the exchanges within the family results in feeling nurtured, valued, respected OR rejected, not valued, etc.  Nurturance o All behavior is communication: it is impossible to not communicate through actions and words. They send information to people. o Content messages: literal words of when a person talks (ex. How did you sleep last night?) o Meta-messages: behavioral information. Eye contact, body position- the information is conveyed through behavior. We as social beings spend forever framing/interpreting the behavioral communications/meta-messaged we are exposed to. (Ex. What did he mean when he looked at his watch while he was talking to me?) o We experience environments through the lenses that we are using that are reflected in how we frame all the information we are exposed to from interactions. (Ex. If mom doesn’t talk to me in the morning, I don’t feel nurtured or cared for)  Conflict o All families develop cusoms and rules about conflict. Parent shave rituals, routines, and rules about conflict. They follow a very similar pattern. The emotional climate is a product of these customs and rules. (Ex. If parents yell and scream at one another, it affects the emotional climate)  Contained vs. uncontained  Contained: stays between the parents. Less of a negative impact on the emotional climate  Uncontained: spills over onto the kids and goes across generational boundaries  Triangulation: form teams. Raises anxiety, which makes for a negative emotional climate. The parents are upset and the child takes a side. o Child is flooded with information and feels helpless, loses respect with either of the parents and the family is split. Sabatelli, Ronald. “The Family as a Context.” HDFS 1070. University of Connecticut,  Storrs. 27 January 2016. Lecture. Family Functioning  2/1/16 Lecture Notes    Epigenetic Assumptions: we subscribe to the belief that the earliest stages of development and the foundation of development are probabilistically related to the course of  development.  An effective family: one that provides for proper nutrition and support and promotes  educational and social development  Broad issues and concerns to take into consideration with models/views on family  functioning:  Some individuals are more impacted than others o Why some thrive while others do not in a family. Some compromise the  development of others.  Patterns of functioning over time o Ineffective and effective families persist over time through generations…  how do we account for that?  Different types and degrees of development  o Some people are anxious, hostile, etc. This in turn affects an individual’s  development and could therefore impair that course of development.   The functioning continuum  Bowen and intergenerational perspectives on family functioning: unit of analysis  is anxiety (all models focus on psychological functioning­ when individuals are  overwhelmed by anxiety, their development is compromised). Models differ on  their sources of anxiety. When anxiety exceeds normal levels an individual’s  psychological development is compromised.  Emotional Legacy: family dynamics create this, which either promotes  development or creates an emotional environment/legacy that raises the levels of  anxiety beyond the level of when psychological wellbeing breaks down.  Family system differentiation  Family systems differ in terms of their level of differentiation, which exist on a  continuum. Effective families are high in system differentiation because they  tolerate differences among family members well. Ineffective families don’t  tolerate difference, which in turn undermines connection between family  members. Most families are in the middle of the continuum.   Well differentiated  Effective families  Poorly differentiated  Ineffective families   Factors that contribute to differentiation continuum: boundary, nurturance,  conflict management, identity development  Boundary processes within well vs. poorly differentiated systems   Boundaries internally regulate the amount of autonomy and support from family  members. These anxieties create working models based on these boundary  processes.   Well differentiated (present but not intrusive) o Optimal environment o Family members are present but nonintrusive. They are present when  support is needed and don’t undermine the competence of the individual.  o Nurturing, helpful and instructive o Allow to develop age appropriate autonomy and competency  Therefore that individual experiences the joy to feel competent  Poorly differentiated (extremes of enmeshment/fusion or disengagement) o Extremes of fusion… either overly present and intrusive OR never present and never intrusive  If overly: communicate to child that they are not competent enough and create raised anxiety about their competence (ex. If teaching  child to ride a bike, don’t let go of child the entire time, which  communicates to the child that the parent doesn’t trust them and  believe in them)  These individuals become anxious about everyday tasks  and want other people to do them  Never involved and never connected: disengaged from child in  terms of pragmatic support and emotional support (ex. Tell child to teach themselves how to ride a bike)  The legacy of these dynamics: mistrust towards other  people and doubt that people will support, protect, educate  and guide you. Feelings of low self­worth and anxious  about anyone who will ever care about you. Nurturance customs within well vs. poorly differentiated systems  Keys to being empathically responsive o The emotional climate is a byproduct of every interaction that you have  with family members. It is forever unfolding. Yet there are times when we are particularly anxious within that emotional environment; it is critical for us to reduce that anxiety. It is important for people to feel like they matter. (ex. When a child is upset with something, need to be empathetic in that  moment for the child) o If one doesn’t feel like they matter, destructive behavior could occur, such  as drug use, promiscuity, etc.  o De­centering: when people you care about need empathy, you put your  problems aside and focus on them in that moment for the good of others. It is a conscious deliberate activity on the part of emotional caretakers and is something that we can teach ourselves to do.  Conflict management processes in well differentiated vs. poorly differentiated families   Conflict is mismanaged in ineffective families (triangulation and cross  generational coalitions occur). In effective families, conflict stays contained­ stays between the 2 people conflicting.  Ineffective families: generates anxiety about connection to other parent/loved one, get caught in the middle, don’t know how to leave the situation and the parents  ultimately make conflict more important than the child’s developmental needs.  Cross­generational: splits the family and recast as allies and enemies. This makes it likely that cortisol levels will raise in children, which makes them less  responsive to learning.  Triangulation: involving another person in a 2 person conflict. Identity customs in well differentiated vs. poorly differentiated families   Ineffective families: If one grows up in a family where people are over­involved,  the parents don’t respect the child wanting to rule his or her adult life. The child  therefore either goes along and accepts that the parents know best or rebels  against it. The child feels like he or she is not in control of their life. o Anger controls their life, which tends to lead to them making poor choices, which overrun the developmental processes that emerge over time.   Effective families: support their child’s life and embrace differences. They also  trust the child’s competence. The impact legacy has on future generations   Ineffective families tend to promote ineffective patterns from generation to  generation. This happens from a multigenerational transmission process:  transmission of effective or ineffective processes from generations, which are  transmitted through 2 primary methods:  o Partner selection process and unfulfilled needs  People typically select a partner whose family of origin is  comparable to their own in terms of levels of differentiation.  (examples: Partner has just as much anxiety in their family as that  person or you seek an incompetent person if you feel incompetent  yourself­ or the complete opposite and select someone who does  everything for you) o Parenting processes  Parents who over function for their children encourage their  children’s anxiety of their own competence.   Parents who are wrapped up in their own anxiety and ability to  parent lack empathy and support for their children. What accounts for differences and why are some more impaired than others?  Parental projection process: How come one child is picked on instead of others,  and how come one child has so much more anxiety while other siblings don’t? o Parents choose a child to project their anxiety onto and become over  involved with that child and not with the other children. (ex. That child  reminds them of themselves) o Parents could reject a child­ be hypercritical of them and hyper­vigilant,  while other siblings are given a pass. Always point out how that child  fails. This is a projection of their anger towards their own parents. (ex.  That child reminds them of their parents)  Growing up in an anxious environment  plays a role in who you choose as a  significant other and how you treat your own children   Therapy and taking control in a more constructive way of anxiety could break the  cycle of parental projection. (ex. Cognitive behavior therapy: learn to regulate  your thoughts differently and break patterns of responding to situations with anger and/or anxiety) Sabatelli, Ronald. “Family Functioning.” HDFS 1070. University of Connecticut, Storrs.  1 February 2016. Lecture.


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