Caring for the family from a holistic point of view is at the very heart of nursing. The family unit is one of the most important foundational institutions in society. While it may seem inconsequential to some, the family unit provides identity, stability, and support. Family dynamics and crises can affect an individual greatly, both physically and emotionally. Thus, it is important for nurses to always include the family when assessing the individual patient.
The Calgary Model provides a framework to accurately and comprehensively assess a family. It comprises of three main categories: structural, developmental, and functional. Using the Calgary Model, I plan to analyze the G family from the structural and developmental point of view.
A family is composed of “two or more persons who are linked together by intimate association, resources, and values” (Bomar, 2004). It is whomever the individual decides provides for their physical and emotional needs and considers to be in their family. As for the G family, they would be considered a nuclear family. Mr. and Mrs. G are a married couple with four young children, E, age ten, J, age eight, B, age six, and A, age four. They live in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C., describe their economic standing as upper middle class, and consider their race and ethnicity as Indian (Asian). When I posed the question to Mr. and Mrs. G of whom do you consider as your family, they both replied each other and their children. Each individual child also replied that their parents and siblings are considered their family.
An assessment of gender roles helps the nurse to see how each individual perceives their role within the family (Wright & Leahy, 2009). For the G family, gender roles are primarily determined based on culture. In the Indian culture, the husband is considered the head of the family and assumes the role of the primary monetary provider while the wife assumes care of the children and the household. In the G family, Mr. G is the primary provider for the family. He is the Chief Financial Consultant at a Fortune 500 company. Even though Mrs. G has a master’s degree in engineering, Mr. G. feels that a mother’s place is with the children and her role should to be rear them. While Mrs. G admits that she enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, she feels that all the energy and effort spent at getting a master’s degree was for nothing. Many times she feels that since she is able to work, she should work, but she respects her husband decision. This is where culture plays a major role, because in the Indian culture, the wife generally has to respect the husband’s wishes.
While discussing gender roles, I also questioned them about their sexual orientation. Mr. and Mrs. G both say they are heterosexual and have always been heterosexual. They both admit to never being sexually active prior to getting married when they were both 23 years old. Mr. G says that the reason he waited till marriage to have sex was primarily due to religious convictions. Mrs. G also admits to being religiously convicted to wait till marriage to have sex, but also admits it was also out of fear of what her parents might do if she ever became pregnant before marriage. She went on to describe how in the Indian culture, having a child out of wedlock has grave repercussions for both the person involved and the family. It would cause the involved person to be cast out of the family, and place a bad stigma on the rest of the family members.
Rank order is used to identify the positions of each child within the family in terms of age and gender (Wright & Leahy, 2009). The children of the G family include the two older boys: E, age ten and J, age eight, and also the two younger girls, B, age six and A, age four. Mrs. G is the middle child, with an older brother and a younger sister, and Mr. G is the oldest of three children, with a younger brother and sister. At the present moment they are unsure if they would like to have more children.
A subsystem is a group of members comprised of individuals linked together through a common association, such as gender, interest, or function (Wright & Leahy, 2009). Mrs. G’s subsystem includes mother, wife, daughter, and sister. Mr. G’s subsystem includes father, husband, son, and brother. For the two boys, E and J, their subsystems include son, brother, and grandson. For the two girls, B and A, their subsystems include daughter, sister, and granddaughter. Mr. G admits that due to his work he has trouble balancing his many subsystems. His work requires him to travel across the country almost every week; thus, he does not have adequate time to spend being both a father and a husband. He feels as though he is always compromising time with someone, and he regrets this greatly because he is missing important milestones with his children and not spending enough time with his wife; however, because he is the sole provider he has to make this sacrifice in order to provide for his family.
Boundaries serve to define and protect the family structure and system (Wright & Leahy, 2009). From the information I gathered from the G family, I would describe their family boundaries as clear and permeable. Between husband and wife they mutually agree that they are not to have relationships with anybody else, and that conflicts must first try to be resolved by themselves. If conflicts arise among the children, the parents have the final say. The G family is Christian, and are careful of whom they allow into their family circle, making sure that they have the same Christian values. This is not to say that they isolate themselves from anyone who is of a different religious background; on the contrary, they say that they befriend all who they meet to try to bring them to know God.
Extended family is very important to the G family. For Mrs. G, she is very open with her mother, and describes her as her best friend. Even though her mother is in India, they talk to each other on the phone every day. On the other hand, Mrs. G is not particularly close to her father. Although she loves her father deeply, she describes him as being overly religious. She says that it is very difficult to talk to him because he looks at everything through the prism of religion and will often condemn her, even if she is just asking for a piece of advice. Mr. G’s family is much more laid back. He has an open relationship with both his parents and siblings, and is able to talk to them freely.
Mr. G’s extended family of his parents and brother are going to be playing a more important role in their lives because the G family is planning to move to Houston, Texas in relation to Mr. G’s job, and both his parents and his brother already live there. While Mrs. G is happy that they are going to have close family nearby, she does not want to live too close to her in-laws because she says that they will tell her how to raise her children and she does not like that.
Larger systems refer to social agencies within the community that the family is in frequent contact with (Wright & Leahy, 2009). Mr. and Mrs. G say that the biggest and most important system in their family is their church. They are very active in the church by always planning and organizing activities. Furthermore, people in the church really look up to them as being a great example of a loving family. For the children, school is important and they are part of many extracurricular activities, such as piano lessons, swimming, and basketball. Furthermore, Mrs. G attends a Zumba class everyday with some of her friends from the church.
The next category in the Calgary Model is the developmental assessment. The G family is considered to be in stage three of the family life cycle, “Families with young children”. In this stage, some changes that are required for the family to proceed developmentally include: adjusting the marital system to make space for the children, joining in childrearing, financial, and household tasks, and realignment of relationships to include parenting and grandparenting roles (Wright & Leahy, 2009). The G family admits that they still struggle at times to meet each other’s personal and emotional needs because the needs of the children are now their main priority. However, since the children are now getting older and are at an age where they are able to keep themselves preoccupied, Mr. and Mrs. G feel that they are able to spend more quality time with each other.
According to the Framework of Systemic Organization by Marie-Louise Friedmann the family is social system with the purpose of relating culture to its members (Bomar, 2009). Its elements include family stability, growth, control, and spirituality (Bomar, 2009). The G family provides for each of these elements within their family by enabling opportunities to learn about societal norms and behaviors, interacting with community resources, setting boundaries, and encouraging the self growth of each member.
After assessing the G family from a structural and developmental point of view, I can see that they are family that deeply care for and love each other unconditionally. They provide for each other’s physical and emotional needs, and make sacrifices when necessary for the betterment of the family. They acknowledge that they are not a perfect family and have many flaws, but they try to continuously learn from their experiences and seek ways to improve their family life.