The King’s family depicted in the movie “The Descendant” reflects the family live style and dynamic in many of the typical middle income families. The core values that the King’s family fostering, such as love the nature, honest to each other and the united of the family, are in rooted with their heritage as the Hawaiian. The tragic incident of the main character Matt King’s wife Elizabeth provides an opportunity for Matt to review his relationship with his seventeen-years-old daughter Alexandra and ten-year-old daughter Scottie. During the coma of Elizabeth, Matt learned how to be a real father.
He is growing with his daughters and building a strong relationship within his family. The author believes the King’s family in this movie set an adequate role model for families to learn how to reestablish a dysfunctional family to a healthy family. Primary Relationships Matt King is a lawyer specialized in real estate transaction. He is also a sole trustee of 25,000 aces of Kauai virgin land passed from his ancestor. He lives with his wife Elizabeth, older daughter Alexandra, who is 17 years old and a younger daughter Scottie, who is 10 years old in Hawaii.
Matt is too concentrated to his work. He has very little time to be with his family members. He neglected his wife, he has not seriously talk to his wife for years, in fact, he hasn’t talk to his wife three days before she had the boating accident and dying in the hospital. He doesn’t involve much with his daughters; he thinks that taking care of the daughter is her wife’s responsibility. Since Matt hardly has time to Elizabeth, she has spend many her time in playing motor boat racing; parting with her friends, and heavily drinking.
Until 23 days ago, she had an accident on her boat which was driving by her friend. Alexandra is in a boarding school because her parents want to discipline her with alcoholic and dating with older man issues. She loves her family members, however, she refused to talk to her mother after last Christmas because she found out that Elizabeth was dating another man, and she was angry with her for betraying her marriage. Scottie was a lost young girl. She has difficulty to make friends at school; she often uses inappropriate body language and profanity language when talking with people during she was angry.
She likes to put on Alexandra’s under dress to express her eagerness of being a big girl. All the behavior of Scottie is try to get people’s attention. She wants people to care of her feeling and interact with her more. She revealed that all the behaviors and languages were learned from Alexandra. Scott is Elizabeth’s father. He loves Elizabeth dearly. In his eye, Elizabeth is a strong and thoughtful girl; she devoted one hundred percent to her family; and takes good care of the daughters.
No one can compare with her, even the granddaughters. Family’s Developmental Stage King’s family was living in a nuclear family with adolescent girl and young girl before the wife, Elizabeth was comatose. The absent of mother in the family, turned Matt, the father from a backup parent to in charge. The daughters have to adapt their father’s new role and live with a single parent; while all of the family members have to accept the death of Elizabeth. Before Elizabeth was hospitalized, this family was a dysfunctional family already.
With Elizabeth alcoholism and life risk motorboat racing hobby, workaholic Matt, alcoholic recovery Alexandra, and left alone Scottie; the family was in the movement of centrifugal. It seems that Matt and Elizabeth did not have a parents system in the family. They did not set the clear boundaries to their daughters. Their daughters do not respect them and they do not have authorities. When Matt started to take charge of the family, he self-examination the family’s development, and decided to change from a distance father to be a caring father.
He constantly reminding his daughters to use the appropriated language and talking with people with respect, event the mother was not able to listen, they still need to talk to her the was to pay their respect. He draws a very clear boundary for their daughter of being respect to parents and grandparents. The family crisis of losing the mother provided a chance for them to be more closed to each other. Alexandra reflected from Scottie’s behavior and started to be a better role model for her young sister; she is lso a main support for her father to recover from the hurtful feeling of wife’s infidelity, and defending her grandpa’s incorrect accusation of her father treating her mother. Scottie’s behavior is getting less dramatic. Matt and Alexandra spend time with her and educate her about selecting the right friend and avoid the bad influence her friends. Without the mother in their life, the structure of the family changed. Alexandra alliance with the father and they make the family reacted to the crisis more positive and reduced the negative impact to the minimum.
The family slowly moves toward the centripetal. Family’s style of communication The family had a poor communication system before the tragic incident of Elizabeth. Matt neglects her wife; he had not talked with her for three days before the comatose and had not talked with her for serious matter for ten years. Matt also not communicate with his daughters well neither. He did not talk with her younger daughter since she was three years old. When Matt and Elizabeth found out the problem of her older daughter, they put her in boarding school.
There were frequent verbal fighting in the family; Matt with Elizabeth, Elizabeth with Alexandra, and Alexandra with Scottie; for the issues of what they want. When Matt took charge of the family during Elizabeth was hospitalized, he often gave order to the daughters and the daughters often ignored him and kept to do things their way. At the last stage of the movie, the family life cycle has changed and they must to learn how to communicate better in order to live in a functional and health family. The non-verbal communication style in the last scent indicated that they are moving toward that direction.
Strengths, Weakness and Clinical Problems The strength of the family is they love each others; they treasure the family as a whole and against anyone who try to break their unity. The weakness of the family is they lack of communication skill, they don’t devote enough time to each other as a family. Matt and Elizabeth have challenge on parenting their daughters. Matt complaining Elizabeth for not being a good role model and Elizabeth complaining Matt for neglecting her and the daughters only bought the high tension in the family, but not solve the problem.
The couple has marriage issue and Matt may better take Elizabeth’s advice to seek professional help together. For their daughters’ behavior issues, they could go to family counseling together. Matt was being accused by Elizabeth about his out of touch of his own feeling; he could talk to the therapist how to feel about this accusation. Therapist could help Elizabeth find a better way to handle the drinking issue and the feeling of being neglect by Matt. Therapist could discuss with Alexandra what is the underneath cause to her drinking problem and wanted to data the older person.
Therapist could talk to Scottie and help her to see the cost and benefit of using profanity language and inappropriate body language. As a whole family, therapist could guide them using effective language to address their concerns and avoid any angry complains. Have each of the family members to agree on getting a regular family time to bond their relationship. Relevant Gender Concerns Matt and Elizabeth were growing up in the Hawaii, and Matt has the blood of the indigenous royalty of Hawaii. The met in the law school and established their family later. The only relevant cultural concern would be the male supremacy.
This reflected from the Elizabeth who had to stay home to take care of the daughters with a law degree, but Matt is devoted hundred percent of his effort and time to his law firm. Conclusion In the family development, it is normal to have family structure change and experience some different degree of family crisis. Some families can survive from the change or crisis; they adapt the new situation and move on to form a healthy family relationship. Some families cannot sustain the impact of the change or crisis; they fell apart and each of them develop a different kind of symptoms and hard to stay as a family anymore.
With King’s family illustration, the author believes, if every family members willing to take their responsibilities, setting a goal for helping each other to living a better life, remaining family unity and love each other as their core value, having effective strategies, such as making clean boundaries from parent to children and making new alliance to a subsystem, then, such family will be not only survive but evolve from the crisis and living in a much healthier and functional family.