Family Systems and Healthy Development
Family Systems and Healthy Development
In today’s world, families are dynamic and interdependent systems. The developmental processes of the children in the family are deeply affected by how the family system operates. However, a family’s structure does not determine whether it is a healthy family system or not. Today, families consist of single parents, stepparents, divorced parents, remarried parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They are all able to contribute to a healthy functioning family system by meeting each family member’s needs and encouraging positive communication (Jamiolkowski, 2008). Unhealthy family systems have negative and possibly long-term effects on a child, both physically and emotionally. An unhealthy family system affects brain development and social development. Moreover, parents hold a particularly important part in their child’s spiritual development. When a family system lacks spiritual modeling, the children do not develop a spiritual relationship and lack religious meaning in their family life (Roehlkepartain, King, Wagener, Benson, 2006). Healthy Family Systems
A healthy family system is a family unit in which each members has their needs met. These needs include safety, security, survival, love and belonging, as well as self-esteem and developmental skills. In a healthy family structure, the family members share a love for one another, respect each other and follow a set of rules that protect and maintain the welfare and development of each family member (Jamiolkowski, 2008). A happy and healthy family system has open communication between family members. Opinions and ideas are encouraged. Since children in a healthy family system are encouraged to communicate their wants and needs, they are confident enough to speak up in family matters. This helps develop a positive and confident self-identity. The children in the family are taught a core group of values to establish right from wrong, as well as personal boundaries. Rules, which must be applied, are enforced fairly and consistently, but are flexible. A healthy family system makes a child feel cared for, validated and valued. Supportive parenting is a term used to describe parents whose authoritative parenting style is firm, with clear and consistent limits, but with warmth, proactive teaching, interest and involvement in their child’s peer activities, as well as calm discussions while disciplining. Authoritative parents tend to be firm and set clear and consistent limits. Although strict, they are loving and supportive, and communicate to the child the rationale for their punishment, along with an explanation for why they should behave a certain way. This encourages independence in the child (Feldman, 2014). Research has shown that healthy friendships in which close ties emerge are developed when parents provide a warm and supportive home environment (Feldman, 2014). Children emulate positive social interactions and roles, which they learn from the adults in their lives who they model after. Children living in healthy family systems develop a strong and positive relationship with their parents or caregiver and will encourage positive relationships with others. Unhealthy Family Systems
The parenting style in the home will result in differences in the children’s behavior. For example, an authoritarian parent is controlling, punitive and strict. Their rules are not flexible and do not tolerate expressions of disagreement. These children tend to be withdrawn with little sociability. Girls are usually especially dependant on the parents, while boys tend to be unusually hostile. On the other hand, permissive parenting provides a relaxed and inconsistent method of discipline. They place little to no limits or control on how their children behave, and require little of their children. These children also tend to be dependent...
References: Feldman, R. S. (2014). Development across the life span (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Jamiolkowski, R.M. (2008). Coping in a Dysfunctional Family. New York: Rosen Pub. Group
Roehlkepartain, King, Wagener, & Benson (2006). The handbook of spiritual development in
childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publication.
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