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Family Comm: Developmental and Unpredictable Stress

Family Communication: Cohesion and Change (8th Edition) by K. M. Galvin, C. L. Bylund, & B. Brommel

Kristina Wenzel Egan

on 30 April 2018

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Transcript of Family Comm: Developmental and Unpredictable Stress

Developmental Stress
Communication & Transitions
Communication plays a critical role in negotiating transitions & stresses
Marker events: transition points in human development
Transitions: periods of time that involve moving from one stage to another stage
stress and anxiety
Instability can trigger meaningful family interactions
Family Stress Model - Carter & McGoldrick (2005)
Vertical stressors: "the hand we are dealt"
Larger society
Family patterns
Horizontal stressors: issues that are developmental and unfolding
Predictable: marriage, college
Unpredictable: unemployment, untimely death
Historical events

Process of Oscillations
“Functional families experience transitions as challenges, and at times unpleasant events, but not as long-lasting negative influences” (p. 273).
Developmental Stage Approach
Developmental stages: normal and predicted change occurs throughout our lives
Each stage consists of steps a person must master before moving to the next step
Late Life Transitions
Older family members tend to be happier & interact with family members more

Self identity issues
Interpersonal needs
Health issues

Enjoy hobbies
Reconnect with close relationships
Life-Course Approach
Life-course: how events and their timing in the lives of individuals effect families
No single model available
Differentiation as opposed to deviation

Individual time
chronological age
Generational time
roles individuals hold in families
Historical time
events that occur in the era of their life
On-time vs. Off-time
Life event occurred at a period in the life-course considered normal based on social/historical norms.
Life event occurred at an "abnormal" time.
Unpredictable Stress
Strain, Stressor, & Traumatic Events

that tension or difficulty sensed by family members which indicates that change is needed in their relationships and their family
Stressor events
characterized by unexpectedness, greater intensity, longer duration, and their undesirability and serious effects

"stress is so great and unexpected that it cannot be defended against, coped with or managed"

Family Coping Patterns
Coping: “the central mechanism through which family stressors, demands, and strains are eliminated, managed, or adapted to” (McCubbin et al 1983)

Process of Coping
Models of coping
Stages of crisis

Coping Models
Burr Stress Model
Ambiguous Loss
It is considered the most stressful type of loss because “it defies resolution and creates long term confusion about who is in or out of a particular couple or family” (p. 278).
Unpredictable Stress
Unpredictable stresses: “are bought about by events or circumstances that disrupt life patterns but cannot be foreseen from either a developmental or life-course perspective” (p. 277)
Can be both positive & negative
Physically absent but psychologically present
Physically present but psychologically absent
McCubbin & Patterson Model
A: Stressor
B: Resources
C: Importance to stressor
X: Crisis, Amount of disruption to system

Dialectical Tensions & Stress
Using Baxter’s concepts of dialectical tensions in relationships, discuss with examples how you think crises affect the following in a family system.

Leaving home
Joining of families through marriage
Families with young children
Families with adolescents
Launching children and moving on
Families in later life
The Family Life Cycle
(Carter & McGoldrick, 2005)
Family Communication:
Developmental and Unpredictable Stress

lost/kidnapped child
MIA soldier
birth parents
infertility and miscarriage

brain injury
Alzheimer’s disease
Ambiguous Loss Experienced by Post-Divorce Families
(Afifi & Keith, 2004)

1) The loss of one's previous family form and the traditional nuclear family ideal
2) The loss of a single-parent bond after the stepparent entered the household
3) The loss of intimacy and trust between noncustodial parents (primarily fathers) and their children
Relational Turbulence Theory
"seeks to explain how people think, feel, and communicate when circumstances change within their relationship" "the changes park relational uncertainty and disrupt interdependence processes"

a period of transformation during the progression of a relationship that requires individuals to restructure how they relate to one another
Sparks questions about the nature of a relationship
Upends interdependence

Factors that influence the impact of the transition:
change in the relational environment: positive <----> negative
vary in its significance: major <----> minor
vary in in abruptness: gradual <----> sudden

Specific episodes:
discrete communication events between partners - frequent and ongoing leads to the perception that the relationship is turbulent

Relational uncertainty:
how sure or unsure people are about the status of a relationship.
Self uncertainty:
questions about a person's investment in a relationship
Partner uncertainty:
questions about a partner's investment in the relationship
Relationship uncertainty:
questions about the nature of the relationship itself
Relational Uncertainty

the degree to which people's outcomes are contingent upon their partner's involvement in their daily lives
Interference from a partner:
disruptive interruption that blocks a person's ability to achieve a goal
Facilitation from a partner:
constructive interruption that helps an individual to accomplish a goal

interruptions spark an immediate emotional response that is based on their assessment of the interruption
frequent activations of emotions make individuals increasingly sensitive to further provocation - more emotionally reactive to subsequent episodes
Communicative engagement:
the degree which people confront versus avoid talking about an episode and the directness versus indirectness of the messages they employ
Communication valence:
indexes the tone of people's behavior on a continuum ranging from
Friendly <---> Unfriendly
Amiable <---> Hostlie

High relational uncertainty --> likely to draw biased appraisals of specific episodes
Frequent interruptions --> likely to feel strong emotions in response to specific episodes
Specific Episodes
Relational turbulence:
an overarching and durable perception of a relationship as tumultuous, frenzied, and unstable
arises from the accumulation of biased cognitions, intense emotions, and polarized communication in response to specific episodes
= a product of specific episodes and crystallizes as a global assessment of the relationship

Cognitive construal level:
the psychological distance with which individuals perceive their environment --- people fixate on the proximal situation, less on the long-term view of the r'ship
Dyadic synchrony:
the degree of coordination between partners in interaction
Relational Turbulence
Construe their relationship in terms of immediate constraints and engage in nonsynchronous communication patterns.
So, RT diminishes ability to:
plan collaboratively
accomplish instrumental communication functions - offer support, manage conflict
interpret relational messages
regulate privacy with social network members
Theory Components
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