Definitions of family vary from country to country, and also in a particular country. Because of changing realities in the world today, many scholars have come up with different definitions of a family and family structure. Schadler (2016), defined a family as an integrated and functional unit of society with a role as an aspect that influences and affects the growth, performance, and well-being of the individual. Family structure is the members of a home who are interrelated by marriage, blood, adoption, or consensual unification. A family also functions as the economic, social, and emotional sense of the individuals living in the same household (Schadler, 2016).
I carried an interview with an extended family living next to our house. According to Sharma (2013), he urged that a family can be classified in several dimensions, for instance, by marriage, location, among others. They are five members in total (father, mother, two children, and a grandmother). The family living in that house are white. John's family as the family is known, considering the social class is in the middle class. Both parents are working, and the father is a farmer while the mother is a businesswoman. The family is God-fearing Christians known to go to church almost every Sunday. The family environment of John's family is tense at the moment because the wife and a mother to John's children are sick diagnosed by cancer, making the social climate of the family unbearable. The two young adolescent girls in the family rebellious hence their relationship with their father considered tensed.
In most cases, when their father talks to them, they ignore him because they feel it is their father's fault for their mother's illness. Their grandmother Mrs Green seems not to take the behaviors of the girls affecting the relationship role in the family. Instead, she tends to support everything the grandchildren are doing, even if it is wrong.
Sheeran, Klein, and Rothman, (2017), defined health behavior as activities an individual engages himself to maintain, or regain good health as a means to prevent illness. These activities include: training regularly or physical activities, eating a balanced diet, and obtaining necessary immunizations in case of illness. The father exercises regularly every morning before going to work. The mother ignored the instructions of their doctor on the need to exercise regularly. Still, she maintains to eat balanced food in every meal she serves, and she sleeps many hours as advised by the doctor. She also adheres to prescribed medical treatments. Both the grandmother and the two girls do not practice any health behavior saying they are not sick, and the elder girl smokes a cigarette when the father is not around.
After the interview, I found out health perception and sleep or rest are the main two functional health pattern used for the assessment of the family. Health perception as one of the holistic model for assessment of the family refers to the subjective ratings by a sick individual concerning his or her health status. We find that some people remark that they are healthy despite suffering from chronic disease, while others see themselves as ill when no actual sign of disease found when they go to the hospital for check-ups. John's wife perceives her health status as healthy, even though she has cancer. She says that with a positive health perception, she dares to face another day even though Mrs John knows she will never get well. She also sees herself as healthy so that her daughters may not have stressed that their mother is dying soon. She spends most of her time sleeping now that she does not go to work as recommended by the doctor.
Some of the areas where health problems identified when I interviewed John's family are high cost of care, inadequate insurance coverage and lack of availability of services needed for cancer patients. John told me that the cost of medication needed as pain relievers are high, and he finds it challenging to cater to both domestic needs at home and the medical needs of his wife. He also said that the amount covered by the insurance medical-aid is inadequate for the surgery or radiotherapy recommended by the doctors making him opt for financial assistance from his relatives with the inadequate funds they can manage less specialized hospitals for services. However, the relatives seem reluctant to help him out. His wife lack services as a cancer patient. She should have care based on the molecular diagnosis to recognizing the type of cancer, the disease stage, and the individual patient's characteristics such as performance status. As advised by the doctors, Mrs John, as a cancer patient, should access the available services with ease since the chronic disease varies from simple to complex, which may require a variety of services.
According to Devlin (2019), family systems theory as a theory that looks at the family as an interrelated emotional unit. The family systems theory states that a family functions as a structure where each member usually plays a particular role and the need to follow specific rules as a sign of respect for one another. These roles include people should interact with one another and respond in a certain way to one another. There are specific patterns developed within the family system in such a way that each member's behaviors impact the other members either directly or indirectly, and the way an individual behaves can lead to either balance or dysfunction of the family at various points in time. When a family member feels that he or she disconnects from members of his family, the family still has a philosophical impact on their emotions and actions of such an individual, whether the impact is positive or negative. The theory suggests that a change in one person. Leads to change in how other members of the family act and feel about such an individual. When an individual is sick, in a stressful situation or anxious, what that individual feels in many cases spread among family members, resulting in emotional challenging such as feeling sad, angry rather than comforting.
The knowledge of family system theory used to bring changes within the family members by making them understand that when the mother is sick, the family members are affected emotionally, resulting in anger or tension between the family members. The father should be the first person to encourage the daughters that everything will be alright to avoid the chances of the children to have stress. The two daughters should understand that their mother's sickness is not their father's fault, and in return, they should respect their father and appreciate the efforts he is making to take care of their mother.
In conclusion, family functional assessment is essential when looking at ways to make those diagnosed with chronic illness to have hope of living a bit longer as compared to those who feel comfortable and have positive health perspectives. It also helps the family members to know how they should help the sick member without feeling that the sick member should not be in the family. It also helps the family members not to feel that the disease is someone's fault.
Devlin, K. (2019). Family Systems Theory Definition & What Is It? Retrieved from https://www.regain.us/advice/family/family-systems-theory-definition-what-is-it/
Schadler, C. (2016). How to define situated and evertransforming family configurations? A new materialist approach. Journal of family theory & review, 8(4), 503-514. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jftr.12167
Sheeran, P., Klein, W. M., & Rothman, A. J. (2017). Health behavior change: Moving from observation to intervention. Annual review of psychology, 68, 573-600. Retrieved from https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044007
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Essay Sample on Defining Family & Family Structure: Exploring Different Perspectives. (2023, May 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/essay-sample-on-defining-family-family-structure-exploring-different-perspectives
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