Essay: Closed systems

A closed system is one that allows little or no interchange with its surrounding environment. The more closed a family system is the more rigid it becomes. My family shows the perfect examples of a closed system amongst a family. For example, looking at my genogram, my aunt Chrystal whom we call ‘Aunt Chris’ has two kids of her own and was once married to my uncle Leonard, my cousin’s father, and soon after they got a divorce she blocked everyone out of her marriage life and wanted no one know. She has a role in the family as having the most power, she holds everyone together and everyone goes to her for everything. Instead of coming to talk to her family and not be embarrassed she moved to new home with just her kids and was so in denial that her life wasn’t perfect she completely let herself go. Both sides of my family has always been there for her but she chose to block us out because she was living this perfect lifestyle and she immediately thought we were going to judge her. This went on for a few years, she allowed no interchange none what so ever with her surrounding environment. She moved to neighborhood where she was actually closer to all of her relatives and even still she allowed no interchange by blocking everyone out of her life all because a marriage didn’t work. She tried to hide it as long as she could, the longer she did it stressed out everyone else because we were all worried about her and she played everything off as if she was perfectly fine but we knew for sure she wasn’t. She let herself gain weight to the point where she was having health problems and again was not telling anyone, and her house was falling apart and disgusting. My family was as upset and confused as to why she was avoiding us and keeping out the great surrounding environments she had around her. My family had to step in immediately and get her help before it was too late and she lost her health abilities and house.
The person in my family who decided to step up and has always showed power in my family was her sister, my aunt Deborah Ann. Referring to my genogram she is my grandmothers, Deborah Barnes daughter, she named her after her with an extra name at the end. My aunt Deborah Ann whom we called ‘Aunt Sis’ came second to playing a major power role in my family and kept up together as much as she could. From my aunt Sis point of view, having a power role she got my aunt Chris the help she need concerning her health. She ended up needing a gastric bypass and slowly got her health and life back in order. The home she had was in terrible condition and was not possible to fix up, she found a bigger and better home and started to move on with her life after accepting everything that happened. Although our family may have been viewed as a happy and open family from the outside looking in we were weren’t demonstrating closeness. All it takes is a closed handed person in the family to only look, believe, feel and speak differently than everyone else in the family to result in a closed system only allows no change interchange or little with its surrounding environment. I believe that my family played a part in the closed system by making my Aunt Chris feel as though we wouldn’t have cared about her situation and not judged her. Each individual in the family were playing a part in their own closed system by not reaching out and trying to make sure everyone is communicating and as a family we let things get out of control. My aunt Chris and her situation demonstrated a closed system family, she closed out her kids and family and let the situation evolve and the more rigid it became.

Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in My FOO:
Dr. John Gottman did a study and found that all negatives in a relationship are not all the same. There happen to be only four of them that stood out known as the most destructive and the most cause of separation and divorce. The Four Horseman include criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Looking at my genogram you’ll notice my parents are still married but they actually have been separated for years, they got married in the 12th grade and got separated around the time when I was 12 years old. My parents Cassandra and Kevin throughout majority of their relationship showed and still shows till this day all four horseman. Criticism is when you criticize your mate or partner and implying that something is wrong with them. Words such as ‘you never’ or ‘you always’ are often ways to express criticism. The person who is getting criticized will feel like their being under attack and immediately respond in a negative way or being very defensive. Once that happens neither one of them will feel as though they haven’t been heard or start to feel sad, and/or bad about themselves when being in the presence of one another. My parents were on drugs together for a long time and it was mainly the reason why they stuck together, once they came down from their high they would start to nitpick, complain and criticize one another about how the other person is a bad influence on them or how the other person doesn’t want to see them do good or be clean, also about how the other person isn’t a good person to them and they never are happy, all the other person wants to do is complain and make rude comments. My mom would sit there and criticize my dad and tell him ‘your never a good father to the kids’, ‘you always think it’s okay to hit on me when your upset’, and ‘you never clean up after yourself’, my dad would turn around and say hurtful things in response to her because he felt as if she was being mean to him so he reacted in a negative way.
Defensiveness, is when a person see’s themselves as the victim, warding off a perceived attack. When a two people are in an argument and one of them feels as if they are being attack they immediately start to try and defend their self. Yes-butting, which is when a person starts off agreeing and towards the end they start to disagree and make up excuses. For example, in my family my two older sisters, Pashun and Jasmine would disagree and argue about any and everything. When Jasmine would steal and wear Pashun clothes without her knowing they would end up being in a huge fight and Jasmine would be very defensive. Pashun would start off by telling Jasmine she knew she was wrong for taking her clothes without asking and Jasmine would immediately start making up excuses as to why she did it and why she felt like it was okay. For example, she would say ‘I only took them because I didn’t have any clothes to wear’, ‘It’s not fair, you only share certain clothes’ and ‘That’s not true, you let me wear them once before’. Jasmine would repeat herself over and over without paying any attention to what Pashun was saying. Jasmine being in an argument with Pashun showed how defensive she was by whining, yes-butting, making up excuses and making herself out to be the victim in the situation.
Hierarchical Relationships in my FOO:
Hierarchical relationships is the relative power between members of the family. It happens to exist in a way to help family member’s organizer the way that they interact with each other. In my family’s culture the power goes to the older generation. Emotional, social and cognitive development all occur in hierarchical relationships, the children of our family are highly socialized, influenced and taught by my family’s older generations who hold the most power. Being able to have power over others can be seen as controlling and violation but it doesn’t have to be seen that way. Having power in my family is not looked at in any negative way, we look at it as being able to enhance our development. In my family my younger family members are subjected to listen to the older generations if told to do something. Looking at my genogram I have one niece and one nephew from my older sister Pashun, my niece and nephew are subjected to listen to me or anyone else when we tell them to do so. It was that way for me growing up as well, my aunt Joan raised me while my mother was in rehab and during that time I had to listen to her and her daughter Amber, and my older cousin. They weren’t my parents but they were much older than me and I as just taught to have to listen to them it came naturally. When I was younger talking back and not listening to your elders was wrong, I knew that from watching my other siblings and cousins, I learned unintentionally from being around them and being influenced and intentionally by parents having to tell me only once. Once you hear something one time from your parents it sticks to your mind and you immediately know what’s right from wrong in any sense.
Different hierarchical relationships occur when you have such a big family with many generations. The relationship between all the aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews are all pretty much the same, no matter how old you are your aunt/uncle will always have that role and having respect for them will always stay the same. For example, looking at my genogram, my grandmother’s brother, whom we call ‘Unc’ is my oldest uncle that I have alive and I have the upmost respect for him as if he was an uncle from my mother’s generation. Growing up my ‘Unc’ has taught me a lot and has steered myself and other family members in the right direction when we needed help. The older generation has power by default and its good thing because they’ve been on this earth longer than the youger ones have and they have a lot more knowledge that we can learn from and be influenced by. The relative power between my family members has had the same hierarchical relationship for the older generations for years, way before I was even born so to most of my younger siblings it’s something that comes naturally. Another example of hierarchical relationships between family members would be between me and all my second cousins who are older than me. At a family reunion or family function and I’m doing something that they disagree with, they have the power to step in, question my actions and correct me. I could get an attitude and talk back but regardless of how old I am I have to communicate in a respectful manner. Of course there’s a limit to what the older generations can have power over but for the most part everyone in my family knows their boundary limits. Given that our older generation has the power has given us a lot of structure and I believe it’s much easier when you have structure ad boundaries of how you can talk to someone or what’s the appropriate way to express yourself to your family.

Rules in my FOO:
A family acts as a rule-governed system, having regularity, stability and structure. In a family rules are supposed to be able to have rules that are negotiable if the family is relatively adaptable. The focus of many family rules is to whom it can be talked about, what can be discuses and how it can be discussed. Rules about family relationships such as how affection and other feelings will be expressed, the different benefits and duties of being the spouse, parent and child. My family rules about family relationships is well explained when having a role in the family and knowing your boundaries. For example, older brothers Jason, Kevin and Corey have a specific role of being older bothers and they follow the rules of having to look after there younger sisters, make sure were all okay, that we’ve all eaten, have enough money to make it through the week and most importantly to keep us away from boys and getting hurt. Their affection and other feelings towards us come natural more so than following rules because it’s something that my parents taught them and my older family members have taught them just from having an influence on them. The benefits they have as being older an older brother is knowing that were safe and taken care of. My older brothers weren’t allowed to whoop us but they could put us on punishment for a week or so. As younger siblings we couldn’t leave the house without telling them where we were going, they had to know incase my parents asked or something was to happen to us. My older brothers also had to follow the rules of picking us up from school or taking us to any after school activates or games that we had to attend to. When my second older sister Jasmine and I were in middle school and high school my oldest brother Kevin had to step in and play the role of my father because he wasn’t around and we didn’t have that fatherly figure like we needed. My brother Kevin played the role and followed the rules of being a father to us and taking care of us. He bought us clothes, shoes, birthday cakes, allowance and support system. My brothers have always had rules in our family to tend to and their affection and feelings were always expressed in positive ways.
Rules about the division of labor in my family included the work assignments for individuals and how tasks were assigned. Rules and roles play hand in hand in my family because we take rules just as serious as the specific role of a family member. For example, division of labor in my house hold took place with me and my second older sister Jasmine when we moved together in the 4th grade. We were separated along with all my other siblings for a long time and when Jasmine and I reunited at my mom’s house it was different because we had two separate lifestyles. My mother gave us chores, I wasn’t use to chores because I never got them growing up with my Aunt Joan. My sister Jasmine was used to having chores because my father’s sister, Aunt Chris who had raised Jasmine made her have chores. Looking at my genogram you can tell that my siblings are closer to my father’s side and I’m closer to my mother’s side of the family. For chores, I was assigned the easy stuff like the living room and the bedroom. Jasmine was assigned the kitchen and the bathroom, she was older so she got the harder stuff. The rules we had to follow on a school day started with doing our homework the night before, getting our clothes out for the next day, shower and get ready for bed. After school, we would come home get started on our chores, homework, play outside, come in for dinner, one of us had to wash the dishes and get ready for school the next day. We had a pretty strict schedule that we had to follow but it became easier once we got used to it. I was assigned the easy stuff because I was the baby and I got more lead way because of that. Jasmine got it a little harder than me because she was older and she also had to look after me when we were in school together, just making sure that I was okay.

Adaptability in my FOO:
Stable patters tend to empower a family to deal with many challenges that they come encounter with, without stability and adaptability has would occur in the family as a result. Whether there common or uncommon families face numerous amounts of challenges. Adults move and switch jobs, kids grow older, families move to different cities or states, birth, marriage, death and sickness all are events that take place and tend to reshape families. The families who tend to be more successful in coping with the different life events and changes will share leadership roles with parents and children. The families who adapt more in a house hold show a healthier example of adaption. When a child is getting older they tend to want more freedom and not get treated like the person who they grew up from; going from a toddler to an adolescent. For example, that growing child will want to stay out later with their friends, the parent allowing them to do so is showing an example of healthy adaption. Another example could be if one spouse has a hard and demanding job every day, the other spouse takes up more housework to do is also a fair share of healthily adaption. No one or no family knows what the next day will bring so it’s important to be adaptive and flexible to keep the family in order without the extra chaos. Family are definitely more adaptive when they have stressful situations going on and they can still see the positive in the situation. Having family roles play apart in adaptability because it’s important to know your role in the family but at the same time still having knowledge of other roles as well. For example, in a married couple the husband typically is the one who knows how to change a flat tire, if something was to happen and the husband was to die, the other spouse would have to be able to adapt and take over that role of not only changing a flat tire but also of having that father role. Same goes for the husband, if only the wife cooks and a crisis was to happen with her and she was unable to cook, the husband would have to adapt and take over the role of having to cook dinner. Instead of freaking out and calling other family members to cook, it’s easier to learn how to adapt to make less stress on yourself and the family.
Adaptability in my family occurred when my parents were in jail and in rehabilitation center for drug abuse and me and my siblings were separated. My aunt Chris had her own family and household but she quickly adapted to the situation and agreed to take my older sister Pashun and Jasmine after they were in foster care for some time. My brothers were taken by anther foster family until they turned 18 years old. My aunt Joan adapted very quickly and took me in before the government came and put in foster care because I was so young. My aunt Chris who had two other children of her own was not going to leave her nieces for the government to take, although she could only take two of my siblings she adapted very quickly. She got them settled in a room, bought clothes, and got them in school. Everything that she had going on in her life now had included her two nieces. When Pashun got older, she learned to give her space, a car and treated her as an adult once she turned 18 and made life easier on her. Jasmine and Christienne, my Aunt Chris youngest daughter, were only a year apart so she treated them fairly the same but allowing them to have their differences. She had an older son, Leonard who she had to explain the situation and how he had to look after his little sister and now cousin. They adapted quickly to the life change and she raised them all well. All by myself I moved in with my aunt Joan who had a two bedroom house with herself and her only daughter. I slept with my aunt majority of the time until I got older she adapted to my age and cleaned out a spare room she had so I could have my own room and toys. My aunt was ready to get her daughter out of her house and then I came along, another kid to raise. Instead of panicking she adapted to the situation, got me in school, bought me all new toys and gave me a life that I thought I lost when I lost my parents. She raised me as her own and took care of me as if she was my mother. I thank both of my aunts for taking care of me and sisters and accepting us into their homes and treated us as if we were their children. My family has quick adaptability skills and we have come a long way with those skills, we could have been living in a crisis because my parents weren’t responsible and lost all 6 of their kids; but we weren’t we pulled it together and stayed strong as family.

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