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Essay About My Family

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    Family plays an enormous role in every single person’s life. Whether it is a positive or negative experience, a person will be shaped by the interactions within their own family. In today’s world, it is common for parents to file for a divorce. Separation between a married couple not only affects the couple but also all their children involved. Description of Family Within my family, I have a mother, father and older sister.

    My older sister is seven years older than myself. My parents were only a senior in high school when my sister was born. My mother was 18 years old and my father was 17 years old. High school was where my parents began to start dating and were only together for two short years before my mother found out she was pregnant. There were high levels of tension between my parents and my grandparents because they were at such a young age to start a family. My father was an excellent baseball player with many scholarships to go to college out of state, but he turned them all down when my mother became pregnant. My mother had dreams of becoming a dentist, but just like my father, they were not able to be filled with a new baby in their life. Both of my parents worked as much as they could to prepare for the birth of my sister, but it was still very difficult for them to make ends meet. Thankfully, both sets of my grandparents were very helpful in making sure my parents had everything they needed to provide for a baby. My sister was the first grandchild for both sides of the family therefore, she was treated like a princess. My grandparents would babysit my sister while my parents finished up the school year and had their after-school jobs. When my sister was around the age of 3, my parents got married.

    At this point in their life, my dad was the breadwinner while my mother stayed home with my sister. A couple of years later, my parents decided they were ready to have another child. At the time my sister was 7 years old, so they had waited an efficient amount of time and saved up enough money to take on the cost of another child. This is where I came into the world. My father was 26 and my mother was 27. My mother continued to stay home with my sister and me until I was about 1 year old. I was a very sick baby so it became very difficult for my mother to take care of me all day long when I would just cry. My mother got a job at the local jail where she was a dental assistant. Everything seemed normal to me until I was about 5 years old when I became aware that my parents were fighting quite often. Experience When I was growing up, I thought my household was so great and the bond between my parents would never end, however, I was very wrong. I had just started kindergarten when my parents sat me down to have a “talk” with me. They had decided to get a divorce and I was very shocked and irate that my parents wanted to separate.

    My sister was 12 at the time and going through puberty so she had very mixed emotions about the divorce. She was much more aware of the resentment and unhappiness of the household compared to me. Looking back at the situation, I was very ignorant of what was actually going on. My parents barely talked to one another and it seemed like such a trouble to get them to communicate effectively. It was a scary time for me because I had just started school and I did not know if that would be the school I would continue to go to. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and close relatives. Since I was so young, I did not have many friends besides family or family friends. My sister, on the other hand, was at an age where she had a bunch of friends and she spent the majority of the time with them out of the household. After my parents had divorced, my mom moved twenty minutes away while my dad stayed at my childhood home. My sister stayed with my dad so that she would not have to start all over at a new school and I moved in with my mom.

    However, the problem was my mother moved into a household with another man. Once again, I did not understand that it was apparent my mother left my father to move in with another man, but my sister did. The resentment and hatred that my sister and father had for my mother started around this time. My mother tried to have a relationship with my sister, but it was not an easy task. My mother’s family treated my father as their own son or brother and continued to care for my father the exact same. As a result, my mother’s side of the family disconnected from her because they wanted nothing to do with her being with another man. My family could not believe that after 10 years of marriage, my mother would walk away and ultimately leave everything. Theory Bowen’s family system theory is developed by Murray Bowen who is a well-known psychiatrist and focused on the dynamics of a family. Bowen did not concentrate on people at an individual level, but rather the relationships within the family system. The theory evaluates the cause and effect of the relationships involved (PowerPoint slides, Feb. 4). Each person’s emotional levels will reflect on the emotional levels of others within the same family system. Furthermore, any change in the system will result in some sort of change in other parts of the systems as well (ISSFI, pg. 1). Assumptions Bowen family system theory has an assumption about all of human nature. He believed that our emotional system is automatic responses and these emotions cannot be learned, but rather already coded within us.

    Therefore, when we respond to behaviors, we respond in a way that is automatic and not a conscious decision. In addition, Bowen stated it is evident that humans are more alike than different from other forms of nature. Anything that is alive has the same emotional and feelings system as humans, which make them more similar than different. Humans based their life on the focus of becoming their own individual but also making sure to stay align with members of their family. He believed that all parts of nature (humans, plants, etc.) lived their life on the concept of constant anxiety. Anxiety is not also considered bad, or good, but something that just comes along with living. Lastly, Bowen came to the conclusion that families function as an emotional system. Some families are more emotional than others; it is dependent on the emotional connections and anxiety of the family. Overall, the way one family member behaves will drive other members of the family to adjust or change as well (PowerPoint, Feb. 4). Concepts & Application One of the concepts that apply to the divorce of my parents is triangling. There is anxiety between two people within the system, and a third person is brought into the scenario to decrease tension. When using triangling, the short-term result will be the calming of the situation, but the long-term effects will cause damage within the relationship. The two original sources are not facing the problem themselves because they depend on their relationship based on the third source (ISSFI, pg. 5).

    When more people are involved in triangling, the more hectic the situation will become between all parties and ultimately affects the whole family system. Within my parent’s divorce, my older sister was always brought into the tension between the two. Since my sister was at an age that she understood what was going on, it was an easy outlet for my parents and outside family to express their anxiety to her. My outside family on both sides made comments about my mother moving to another man and projected this onto my sister. Everyone believed channeling in my sister was beneficial, but they soon learned it was not. My sister began to have resentment towards my mother and that ultimately ruined their mother-daughter relationship. She decided to live with my father and I still wanted to stay with my mother. This made it very difficult for myself because I was separated from my father and my sister. By triangling my sister into my parent’s relationship, the problem was never solved because my parents just projected their problems onto my sister thinking she could solve the problem herself. The dependency of my sister being the outlet for the problem still resulted in a divorce between my parents.

    Bowen’s family projection process also occurred during the divorce of my parents. The emotions that they were having in their marriage, was then projected onto my sister and me. It was mostly onto my sister since she was older and more aware of what was going on. My sister would ask my parents questions about the marriage, and in return, my parents would say hurtful words towards one another. The result of the projection causes one child to feel less independent and needing constant approval by others for their actions. On the other hand, the other child is less dependent on the parents and is more focused on their own happiness and not the approval of others (ISSFI, pg. 7). My sister would be an example of the child who was dependent on my parents and needed approval by everyone. I can recall my sister constantly being worried about her appearance because she wanted everyone to approve of what she looked like. She would wake up abnormally early in the morning to get ready for school.

    In addition, my sister would always ask my parents if they “approved” of her outfit or her friends. She lived for the reassurance that my parents gave her and felt accomplished if my parents approved of her decisions. The anxiety that my parents projected to my sister affected her self-confidence and ultimately the way she lived her life. My sister has always hesitated to achieve her goals in life because she was very dependent on my father. Meanwhile, I was a carefree child that did not care what everyone thought. I would say I was rebellious and did whatever made me happy. I also left home to achieve my goals of graduating from college, whereas my sister never left home or moved away. Even though my parents never wanted to intentionally hurt my sister, their decision to express their anxiety to her has caused long-term negative effects. An additional concept related to the divorce is emotional-cutoff which is a response to when anxiety and tensions are high. There are two types of cut-off that can refer to a physical or emotional. Physical is actually leaving and moving away from the family or situation (ISSFI, pg. 9). While emotional might not be physically moving away but is making sure to detach from the anxiety.

    The emotional cut-off is a consequence of unresolved attachment within the system. This causes people involved to be highly oversensitive, restless and uneasy about the current situation (PowerPoint, Feb. 6). From the example of my parent’s divorce, my mother moving away from my father would refer to a physical emotional cut-off. My mother could not deal with the high-intensity fighting between my father and her, therefore she decided to move out. Instead of working on the problems, my mother cut my father out of her life. Unlike my mother, my sister would be an example of emotionally cutting off someone. My sister was highly upset with the way my mother decided to leave my father, so she decided to isolate herself from the situation. The anxiety of the family was seen as a threat to my sister and in response, she became cut my mother out. I was very curious as to why my sister never wanted to speak to my mother, so I would ask her many questions.

    My sister would just ignore my questions and try to change the subject. Once again, I was at an age where I felt like “out of the loop” with my family. All my questions and concerns were disregarded and directed somewhere else. Eventually, after many discussions and therapy sessions, my mother and my sister were able to rekindle their relationship. My mother had to own up to her mistakes with my sister, and they began to slowly build their relationship again. Sibling position is the last concept from Bowen that applies to my parent’s divorce. The oldest child tends to have the most anxiety brought upon them by their parents. This leads to the eldest obtaining the leadership role of the family (PowerPoint, Feb. 6). While the youngest child does not have the anxiety projected on them as severe and is more likely to be carefree. Overall, sibling position makes it obvious of each person’s role and how they will respond to particular situations based on their role. In addition, sibling position makes it obvious of each child’s weak point and how to work on the strengths of the children (ISSFI, pg. 9). My sister was the eldest, so it was obvious she took on the role of leadership. There are multiple occasions where my parents were fighting, and my sister would take me into her bedroom to sleep.

    She felt responsible to take care of me when my parents were not available to. In situations where conflict was high, my sister would consistently step up to take care of me. She knew her role and I knew mine. I could always count on her to be there when I needed her. Conversely, I was aware of my role as the youngest child. I did not take leadership in situations because I knew my sister always would. In addition, my anxiety levels about my family were not nearly as high as my sister. Since my sister received most of the projection from my parents, she had high levels of anxiety. My strengths were not letting the anxiety of my family affect my life and became independent. While my sister’s limitations were being reliant on my parents as well as needing approval. Overall, a divorce is not an easy experience for a family. The high level of anxiety between the parents and children will have long-term effects for all parties involved. The Bowen theory can be used to explain multiple dynamics within a family system and how a traumatic situation can be explained. Ultimately, all the experiences encountered within a family will shape a person into who they become.

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