Family Systems theory Essay
Family Systems theory
Why study families?
•Traditional psychology – problem an individual one
– Externalise distress – act out
– Internalise distress – withdraw
– Psychoanalytic – e.g Freud – fixated at a phase due to trauma and regress to this level
– Behaviourists – e.g learn inappropriate response
– Attachment – insecure primary attachment
Bronfenbrenner’s model – ecological approach
a)Life cycle stresses
b)Stresses related to cultural expectations
c)Stresses related to historical time
e)Stress reactions which create more stress
Does research support the sociological viewpoint?
– Distress related to lack of social support
– Overcrowded housing, father in gaol, depressed mother
– Parental stress & maternal negativity plus child temperament
What is family’s position in the sociological model?
– most influential part of child’s social context
– buffer between child and outside world – serves to protect or expose child
– usually positive
Do families need support?
– Bronfenbrenner’s model less applicable now?
– Less sense of community
– Increased fragmentation
How do families work?
Can be seen as a system – stress -> distress
– child most likely to be the distressed person as most powerless
Circulatory causation – interactive model
Non-summativity – whole more than sum of parts
Communication – feeling and content
Governed by rules – spoken or understood
Homeostasis – in some sort of balance
Morphogenesis – flexibility to respond to change
How do you measure family relationships?
Research relies on two dimensions
– Affection (aka warmth, acceptance, cohesion, closeness)
– Control (aka power, autonomy, flexibility)
What happens when families get stressed?
Timberlawn studies (Walsh 1993)
•Strong, warm relationships especially marital one
•See causes and effects as circulatory
•See events as multi-causative.
•Actively involved in world outside family
•Feelings and thoughts expressed and accepted
•Little blame or personal attack
•See human nature as benign – do best in a situation
•Flexible – adjust to new situations
Seek control rather than intimacy
Severe – eg sects
More comfortable with negative feelings
Blame and attack
Children expected to be independent early
Material wealth takes preference over relationships
Extreme – chaotic, intimidating, very unstable
How can early childhood educators help?
Helping with children if in crisis