I have never expected to learn so many things about myself and my family and the things that encompass our daily existence. What touch me most deeply is on how families could preserve and maintain its values intact with emphasis on parent-children relationship. It is hard, for sure, to run a family and keep it functional for always. Likewise, it is also hard to be a mother and a father and also a child. What is even harder is run a family in a collective, united and ongoing manner, with perspectives aimed at to similar direction. Familial conflicts arise when one of the family members has a vision very different from the rest. Such a situation could lead to even more conflicts when respect to that family member is lacking. Trust is also a commonplace, but a virtue that is always overlooked in the family, especially between spouses.
As such, it is of my best belief that family reconstruction should be in the forefront of familial literature today. For me, this is one among the many concepts that directly targets what the modern families ‘are’ now and in ‘what sense’. Families of today are increasingly becoming fragmented – physically and emotionally – with child/children, whom are always left in the middle, confused, hurt and alone. Separation must not be a solution; it should be the last resort, and in this manner that family reconstruction must work best. It should be that highest priority that an avenue must be created not just for parent but also for children to reclaim their self-worth and belongingness.
I was also stricken by the fact that indeed families are very unique in every sense of the word because of the individuals that make up the whole family. These differences made me realized that there are certain things that will work for a family but would not work ever for other families. A family, as people would always say, must be able to create and sustain an environment wherein emotional, spiritual, social, psychological, physical well-being are developed. This idea is reflected in a saying authored by , stating that: “If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct.” True enough, families should know how to nurture, support, encourage, protect, communicate, have fun and work together as a team despite the uniqueness of each member. We are in an era where familial boundaries and structures are scattered, but there remains that necessity to be functional.
A functional family does not necessarily mean having two parents, but for me, a functional family is where love, trust, respect, communication and necessary limitations prevail. It does not matter if you have a mother or a father or don’t have both. What is important is every member of the family has a way to stop unhappiness whenever it lurks inside the family. With that said, functionality is a responsibility of every family member and what will keep the family grounded. The sad part is not all of the people are aware of this fact. Even I did not know all about this prior to taking the course.
Cleaning up my act is just one of the many wonderful things that the course had taught me. I always thought that love is my original birthright whether people gives love back in return or not. I have realized that for me to experience the love that people would possibly, spreading love and happiness shall start with me. Self-centeredness and insecurities always haunt me, perhaps the reason why I am hesitant to show my appreciation, affection and gratitude to other people even to my family. I am changing as I learned that congruence and communication are important in keeping yourself and the family you belonged to functional. Now, I held the determination to show people who I am really, being direct and straightforward but without meanness and bitterness. Further, I also learned that it is not only me who is being affected by what is happening to the family, and that when bad things happen, it is not I who is most broken or damaged at all.
Although I do not want to dig deeper with what I and my family went through in the past, I learned now that acceptance is at the heart of everything. And, communicating how I feel can lessen the pain more than I imagined. Handling conflicts inside should not be done in an isolated manner and must not be treated as a single event. Instead, responding to crisis inside the family must go through a process by which everyone is involved. It is not healthy for a family that one is coping fast while other family members are lagging behind. The most matured thing that I think I have learnt is that it is not happy that you are the only one happy within your family while your mother or father or sister or brother are into a lonesomeness that is slowly eating their capacity to function well as a family member. A family is a place wherein when one cries, the other cries too, and then will try to laugh together after the storm.
Considering the case of Miss A, family reconstruction should be integrated into. Just like the iceberg floating into the water, there is a huge mass of family problems for Miss A which remains below the surface. At the onset, what is ‘above the water line’ I can say that although their structure is unbroken the family is very dysfunctional as evidenced by the relationship of Miss A with her parents. The relationship problems are present primarily between Miss and her mother, Miss A and her father, Miss A with her siblings and most probably Miss and herself. They are detached emotionally to each other and with suspicions that generally manifested in their actions especially that of the mother’s. There is a tension between the mother and the father with effects trickling down to the children.
Miss A is in a position where she could only resort in a counseling especially that she did not know herself what to do. Not to mention, here problem is not easy to deal with because there are relationships that must be fixed, reconciled and settled first prior to dealing with own problems of Miss A. Notable, however, is that when the problems of Miss A’s parents are addressed, it would have a positive effect on Miss A. With this, I will say that families are made up of complex interpersonal relationships, and with varying personalities, needs and interactions, the reason which might explain the family problems of Miss A. A fact is that people can choose to deal with their respective families and the problems that those families encounter in either positive or negative way. For Miss A’s problems, a proactive approach is the most necessary.
Miss A is like anyone of us, striving to have the ideal family but she must realized first that in order for her family to go back to the state of what it is before, dealing with her own problems first must be addressed. I already mentioned that when the problems of the problems are effectively dealt with, then follows that of the children including Miss A. What I mean when I said that dealing with the problems of Miss A is to process first her feelings, emotions, attitudes, perceptions and aspirations about what is currently happening. In here, I can try to use the positive affirmations so that Miss A can give herself back the confidence and trust that she can contribute in solving the problem while also reducing the guilt and unhappiness. She felt like she was caught in the middle, drowning with the depth of how troubled her family is.
As such, I shall confirm to Miss A how precious are family relationships are to her and what are the things that she is willing to give up just to put her family together again. How the relationship could be strengthened and the problems arising be better managed is a vision that must come from her since she deeply held the determination to bring her family back to right path. Bringing Miss A to a calm state of mind must be sought in order to try to solve the conflicts, therefore change the interaction for the better. What Miss A should learn is to communicate effectively her mind and also to negotiate the conflicts with other family member and help them to open the communication channel again. In this way, her depression could be managed and responded to as well in order that she and her siblings would not resort into self-destructive behaviors.
Family is one of the most common sources of stress and not all people are capable to cope with it. These are ‘at the water line’ that one minute we see and the other minute we don’t. Miss A’s siblings are affected both directly and indirectly and may have serious consequences when dealing with people outside their families. So, after dealing with Miss A’s own problems, the necessary next step is to process the feelings and emotions of the siblings and with the presence of Miss A whom will guide them in the intervention.
Below the water line is the deepening emotional separation between the parents and among the children. Expectedly, both mother and father are confronted with feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, confusion and even giving up. These emotions are all playing at the back of their mind at the same time, mixed emotions that is. Same with the children, they are secretly blaming themselves for what had happened to the family, aside from assumingly withdrawing from reality and living in isolation. At this point, Miss A, the parents and the siblings could ponder among themselves and to think objectively about the real problems of the family.
The parents would be the hardest to convince to sit down and deal with the problems from a family perspective, particularly the father. As such, it would be Miss A’s job to negotiate with the father, if not the mother. What I can advice to each of them is to give themselves the benefit of any doubt and regard themselves with the best motives for their individual behaviour. In this way, they could understand what they think they are doing wrongly. A strategic withdrawal of those things that the family has done imperfectly will be my aim.
Convincing them to do such would not be easy, and so the need to talk to them separately and then as a family. I figured that Miss A’s family is not a talker and that is what makes it difficult also. There are things that are not instantly evident, or those that are people cannot see just like the bottom of the iceberg and so, Miss A’s family should disclose in order to effectively deal with them. After looking at their family in an objective manner, discussing it would be the succeeding step.
Using Stair Model
What is currently happening to Miss A’s family is normal, however, the prolonged time for intervention lies in an abnormal state whereby she is now taking an unnatural role, trying to be the gatekeeper and at the same time the initiator and the solution-provider. Unstable relationships are inexistence with family members who do not know what to expect further, how to react and how to behave to the point that a family member (Miss A) is almost giving up. This is their current status quo.
Obviously, since the father is away, there is no one who will impose and implement family rules and the mother felt helpless and underpowered whom should give value to family rules imposed. Left unaddressed, the children also felt toxicities specifically Miss A who realizes the extent of the damage in the family relationships. They don’t necessarily enjoy being together because of the doubts that the mother has towards the father. Not to mention, the suspicions could be also impacting the children. There is the imbalance of the roles and actions. With this as a major problem, the family cannot cope with the expectations and dysfunctional pattern starts.
Opening up with the possibility of improvement could materialize if resistance could be addressed also. A thing noteworthy of mentioning is that Miss A is the only one who is eager to resolve the conflicts of the family, while also withdrawing at some part of it. Resistance is present at three parts. First is on Miss A’s notion of escaping the problem and leaving it as it is. Second is on her sibling who maybe are not that determined to play the role that Miss A’s accepted half-heartedly. Third is on the mother who is still in the state of denial and fear to confront her husband.
The critical issue here is the presence, or lack, of the father because of work, disconnecting with the mother and the children. Enter chaos, where the family is now floating in the unknown with shattered relationships, invalid expectations, ineffective reactions and impossible behaviors. Such condition triggers anxiousness and vulnerability specifically when support systems do not exist. So, in order that Miss A and her family could overcome resistance, reactions to deny, avoid or blame should be likewise overcame.
Transforming Miss A’s family is a necessity now, realizing how they could benefit to the chaos that they are currently experiencing. Each family member should remember that everyone has a significant role to play and is valuable to one another, including the relationships that they have. Awareness of the new possibilities such as bonding moments and open interfacing with each other despite the physical distance must be realized by the family, and efforts should be given genuinely and spontaneously.
At this stage of integration, support is much more important as a family member could feel frustrated if it will not work. Members must be reassured and assisted in coping with the difficulties. In the late status quo, the actions, dreams and hopes of each family member must be in accord and assimilated. If not, their family problems will and could resurface, leaving them helpless and angered this time.
In becoming a healthy family, each family member should practice openly acknowledging their problems, discussing them openly and working toward changes cohesively. They must believe also that change is acceptable and actively solicit workable solutions from other family members. In this way, everyone in the family of Miss A could discover each family member as people and connect with them as human beings. Appreciate and connect deeply with them and move beyond the survival pain.
In addition, the parents and the children could obtain access to their inner resources and become their own responsible choice-maker aside from updating the past and reducing its impact to the future and unblocking distorted or limited perceptions of each family member about each other and about the family as a whole and then deal with unmet expectations.