In this essay, I will analyze the family of Ann who is a single mother of three children out of which two of them a boy and a girl are in their teenage years while the last-born is a toddler. The eldest is a girl (Faith) while the youngest is a boy (Owen) while the other goes by the name Shawn. Both parents have Jamaican descent since their parents emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica thirty years ago. Ann divorced her husband Frank one and a half years ago due to his drinking problem and irresponsible behavior. Therefore, as a single parent, she has assumed the challenging total responsibility for her children’s needs including paying the rent for their two-bedroomed apartment. According to Taylor & Conger (2017), “Mothering can be particularly demanding for single women who are more vulnerable to a variety of…” Before and after the divorce, I observed that one of the family’s strengths is unity among the children who appear to spend most of their time together. Although Faith and Shawn are constantly arguing, I have noted that they are quick to support each other whenever another person is involved. They are also concerned with Owen’s well-being and ensure that he does not get out of sight when they are not in school and their mother is working. The elder ones are supportive of their mother who works double shifts to foot the bills.
Ann’s family is in the third stage of the family life cycle given that her older children are teenagers. Although the youngest is a toddler, the family falls under the “family with adolescents” category (Treas, Scott & Richards, 2017). It is important for Ann to ensure that she instills good morals and behavior in Faith and Frank given that they are young adults. By so doing, she will be able to discourage vices such as violence and alcoholism by teaching them the significance of being responsible adults. From my observations, it has come to my attention that the family’s form of communication is nurturing. According to Le Poire, “Nurturing communication includes communication that encourages the social, emotional, and intellectual development of family members” (2006). Ann is keen on ensuring that her children are brought up in a loving environment that promotes a sense of responsibility and unity. While Frank was still living with them, there seemed to be a frequent breakdown in communication among all family members. He was constantly quarreling Ann whenever he came home drunk in the wee hours of the night. The house is quieter after the court issued a restraining order on Frank after the divorce.
I find it fascinating that Faith has taken after her mother and seems to make it her responsibility to ensure that Owen is bathed and fed. In fact, she rarely finds time to interact with her friends and spends most of her time at home looking after her sibling. The same level of commitment and sense of responsibility is exhibited by her mother Ann who works tirelessly to ensure that there is food on the table and that school fees are paid among many bills incurred by the family. Given that the family has Jamaican roots, it is essential for a social worker working with them to understand cultural values. Information regarding the effects of culture on families may be useful in helping the social worker identify the root causes of problems experienced by Ann’s family (Karraker, 2015). For instance, Jamaican families are significantly affected by male chauvinism whereby men are expected to be dominant. The social worker can use such information to explain why Faith feels compelled to perform household duties such as caring for Owen while Shawn does not.
The systems theory attempts to explain the behavior of an individual based on the impact of a combination of factors acting as a unit. Such factors include the home environment, parents, social and economic class, friends and social settings such as schools and churches (Becvar & Becvar, 2017). Faith, Shawn, and Owen have been exposed to an environment characterized by alcoholism and violence. This is likely to have a negative impact on the children’s adulthood such as low self-esteem. Such an environment is known to promote risky behaviors such as drug abuse and unprotected sex. According to Samudio, it is a form of therapy that involves the attendance of many family members in the same session (2015). A social worker through the recommendation of family therapy can deal with the effects of system’s factors.
Becvar, R. J., & Becvar, D. S. (2017). Systems theory and family therapy: A primer. Rowman & Littlefield.
Karraker, M. W. (2015). Global families in a digital age. Family communication in the age of digital and social media, 55-75.
Le Poire, B. A. (2006). Family communication: Nurturing and control in a changing world. Sage.
Samudio, M. (2015). Doing Family Therapy as a New Social Worker: The Do's and Don'ts. Retrieved from https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/doing-family-therapy-as-a-new-social-worker-dos-and-donts/
Taylor, Z. E., & Conger, R. D. (2017). Promoting strengths and resilience in single‐mother families. Child development, 88(2), 350-358.
Treas, J., Scott, J., & Richards, M. (2017). The Wiley Blackwell companion to the sociology of families. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley Blackwell.
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