Families That Know How To Deal With Challenges Effectively Are More Resilient To Stress And Crisis

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Families that know how to deal with challenges effectively are more resilient to stress and crisis

Dysfunctional Families

Family/household structures and strategies are very diverse worldwide and their response to processes of economic and political change is equally diverse. In other words, if there is a crisis in the family, it can only be a multiple set of crises in many different families. (UNRISD, 1) The outcome is the decline of the traditional male-breadwinner families, into what society, today, calls the dysfunctional family. But first, what is a dysfunctional family? To define this term, we must first know what constitutes a functional or healthy family. Therefore, the opposite of those characteristics would define what a dysfunctional family is. (Pierce, 1) The factors that lead to dysfunction in the family will be looked at in a political economic perspective and how it affects the family unit.

A dysfunctional family

According to LuAnn Pierce, the term dysfunctional family is difficult to define because it must be understood as being opposite of what constitutes a functional or healthy family.

Notwithstanding cultural, economic, or social factors, characteristics of a healthy family include:

-the family is open to others from outside of the immediate family system;

-family members allow outsiders to enter the system and they can go outside the system to get help;

-parents set clear generational boundaries; that means parents are the caregivers and children are secure in their role as siblings, children, and individuals;

-recognizes stressful situations or crisis as evitable and seeks healthy ways to deal with them as a family;

-Family works together to find solutions to problems - they focus on solutions, not blame each other;

-family members focus on what is controllable and make the best of situations over which they have control;

-family develops and revises rules to deal effectively with day to day life;

-family members recognize that decisions and routines are flexible;

-family members feel empowered as a result of effectively dealing with stress; and

-family members recognize the difference between the symptoms of stress and the sources of the stress.

Therefore, a dysfunctional family exhibits the opposite pattern of behaviors and coping strategies in stressful situations.

In Recreating Your Self, Nancy Napier defines functional and dysfunctional in a similar way. Instead of making some moral judgment (i.e. good or bad) about dysfunctional families, LuAnn Pierce and Nancy Napier focus on the difference between the kinds of coping strategies and communication patterns used by functional families and those used by dysfunctional families . According to Napier, functional strategies and patterns are those that enable family members to negotiate challenges and crisis effectively (p.28). Dysfunctional coping strategies and communication patterns are those that interfere with a family s ability to deal with stressful events (p.28).

The stressors of healthy vs. dysfunctional families

According to LuAnn Pierce, the stressors that lead to stressful events also differ between healthy families and dysfunctional families. In healthy families the following are some of the areas that can cause stress within the family: finances, dealing with ...
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