According to Hepworth, Rooney and Larsen (2002), issues of decision-making are closely linked to the power dynamics within a family in that the responsibility of decision-making is often held by parents or modeled after parents' approaches to decision-making. You see this dynamic being played out in the Grape family as Gilbert and the rest of the family look to Mama for the final "say-so" on decisions having to do with the family. Along with Mama's authority, comes the unspoken power of their deceased father. Even though there father is not around to partake in decision-making, the idea of him and the way he had previously run the family still has a great influence on the way each member makes decisions.
Having Mama, who is immobile and generally uninvolved with each family member's life outside of the home and the father, who is not around to be involved in the family's life, be the key proprietors of making decisions, adds an additional stressor to the family's functioning. Mama tends to make decisions based around her own needs and the needs of Arnie, the child she feels most connected to, due to the social stigmas surrounding the both of them.
The death of the father is an unresolved issue for many of the Grape family members. By continuing to use the father's standards as a means of running the household, they are holding on to something that does not exist and are not allowing themselves to make changes within the family structure. This is strain on the family has caused some of the members to separate themselves from the decision-making process. "Prolonged or unresolved conflict may factionalize the family unit and cause some members to disengage" (Hepworth, Rooney & Larsen, 2002, p. 284).
There are seven key components to be aware of when assessing a family's decision-making process. One is that successful decision-making requires constructive criticism and the ability for each member to self-express while also...