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Readings: This week’s readings explore family stress. It is important to note that many types of families exist including chosen families and partners without

Readings:

This week’s readings explore family stress. It is important to note that many types of families exist including chosen families and partners without children. Thus, this week’s readings encompass a snapshot of a few familial stress concerns inclusive of a review of past and current theories in the literature.



Single-Parent Families



Dual-Earner Families



Reconstituted and Surrogate Families

You may have heard the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Referencing the different definitions, or examples, of how families (e.g., Stepfamilies, Adoptive Families, Foster Families, Natural Families, etc.) are defined in this week’s readings, discuss what the concept of a “village” may look like within these examples.

Draw from your personal experiences. If you are comfortable sharing, possibly reference the difference in how your were raised, with how your best friend might have been raised. Or reference scenarios that may have been shared with you.

Given what you have learned so far in this class, can you identify any patterns, or types of stress that might have existed for any member of the village? If so, what advise could you offer now to help ameliorate or reduce this stress?

Use proper APA style citations when referencing reading materials and please provide thoughtful and substantive responses to the posts of at least two of your classmates. 

Classmate post 1:

I spent most of my childhood in a natural/nuclear family as my parents divorced when I was 12. My mom met my now stepfather when I was 13 and my dad was with my stepmother right after they split apart, so the transition period from a nuclear family to a stepfamily was very brief for me. Since I was older I feel I have a very good grasp on the differences of these two family dynamics

Starting with my time in a natural family I would say that the concept of “village” was very standard other then my most of my father’s family living multiple states away. There was never any doubt of who are village was as I was a firm part of the family and there was never any hesitation for any family (parts of my village) to help me. 

Then for my stepfamily I was very fortunate as my stepfathers family was already very open to remarriage/stepfamily that I was considered apart of their family as soon as they started dating. My stepmothers family was not as open and I was definitely treated different compared to their biological grandchildren/nieces. This strain with my father and stepmother led to a strain with most of my fathers side of the family to the point I don’t consider them a part of my village anymore (currently trying to have a relationship with my father for my children’s sake but that’s a whole different story). This dynamic changed showed that there are many things that can strain your village and not every person is willing to take in a emotional connection with you and I believe my age was a major factor in this as well. People connected to my sister more (she was 6) rather then me (13) and I believe a lot of people didn’t want to make the effort as I was older so presumably I would be on my own sooner.

This weeks learning really enlightened the stress my mom and stepfather were under. My mom was the “rarer” case of the primary caregiver for my stepbrother as my stepdad was a single parent before he was with my mom. In the handbook by Pryor (2004) it states that their may be a strain based on age but my (step)brother was around three when introduced to our family and his mother unfortunately passed away so my mom was able to take in a more prominent parenting style with him; he also refers to her as his mom (he does know who is birth mother is and remains in contact with his maternal grandparents). Some advice I would give my stepfather knowing what I know now for his time being a lone parent is to rely on his village as much as possible as he had plethora of people to help support him. Then the advice I would give my mom entering a stepfamily where she would be taking on the primary role of her partners son is also to reach out to your village for help and to ask for breaks when needed as going from the primary caregiver of two girls who were older to adding a toddler boy is a difficult transition and it is ok and necessary to at times remove yourself from the situation.

Resource:

Pryor, J. (2004). Parenting in reconstituted and surrogate families. In Handbook of Parenting: Theory and Research for Practice (pp. 110-129). SAGE Publications Ltd, 

Classmate post 2:

I feel that the concept of a “village” includes all of the people involved in the development of a child. The types of familial dynamics that were discussed in this weeks readings are fairly common and the types of family units that were expressed in the readings were ones that I have had personal experience with. The three main suggested units are dual-parent households, single-parent households, and reconstitued families (families with step-parents/adoption). The saying it takes a “village” to raise a child, means to say that it takes a lot of resources all pooled together to develope a child in a healthy way. Each text describes this but two key themes that were touched on where financial support and social support. Being able to balance these two variables seemed to be a big undertaking for each family unit as in the first text Jobs, marriage, and parenting by Jenkins and Turner (2004) states. Equal-sharers of responsibility, especially financially can have great influence over familial relationships and developments of a child (Jenkins & Turner, 2004). The idea being that in families where a parents is forced to work all the time to financially support a child, the child loses out on that social connection and other social responsibilities but alternatively if the financial support is not met then the quality of life for the family also diminishes. This balance is incredibly difficult to achieve and as the text stated, dual-parent households even recognized this difficulty primarily in the first 3 years of the child’s life until more traditional forms of care like school this imbalance tended to work out and more equitable sharing of responsibilities took place. This lead to a more sustainable and less strenuous environment in the family unit. From my personal experience I’ve grown up in a dual-parent household but have had friends come from all types of family structures. Both my best friends growing up lived in single-mother households, one to divorce, the other widowed. I have had good friends that have reconstituted familial structures with step-parents taking on a greater parental role than their biological counterparts and everything in between. I feel that a pattern I’ve noticed in my personal experience is that dual-parent families are ideal for development of children, that’s not to say that any of the other parental structures aren’t fruitful or are bad but they certainly put more strain on all parties involved as in dual-parent households responsibilities can be shared more equitably. Hardships are less likely to be endured as income is more reliably brought in in cases where both parents work and this allows more time for the parents to spend time with their children. I feel that there’s a lot of stress in any parenting and while I’m not a parent yet I do recognize the stress that I put on my parents growing up and still do to a degree. The idea of being financially and sociably responsible for not only myself but others around me is a challenge I haven’t faced yet but appears to be a daunting one. This compiled with the constant worries that you’re failing at parenting or worry for your child’s well being would be an incredibly large stressor for myself personally. I can imagine that this is a common fear that lots of parents have and it’s one that’s hard to console. My best advice from the experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned that I’ll implement if I become a parent one day is to try your best. I know it sounds simple and standard but that’s all you can do. Put your best foot forward, be transparent with your children, and try and teach them the way you know best. There’s going to be stress no matter what as we’ve learned from earlier chapters the two main sources that seem to continue influencing stress are family and work obligations. Ideally I’d try and control what you can and set goals for yourself. Financial planning and social budgetting can help a lot in terms of reducing stress levels as it can give a sense of structure to your life. Balancing work and social life is an important component that I’ve noticed for successful parents through the readings. Work too much, miss out on social development, work too little, run the risk of financial struggles. This balancing act is only amplified when the variables get changed in the case of single-parent homes or single-earner homes. It’s stated in the text that single-mothers report more stress as they feel they have to fulfil both parent roles and this is an added stressor sociably as well (Martin, Emery, & Peris). Physcological  Ultimately the thing I’d recommend the most is working on balancing obligations to familial activities and work obligations. If you can do that I think you’ll be much more likely to succeed based on the patterns I’ve noticed in these readings. 

References

Perry-Jenkins, M., & Turner, E. (2004). Jobs, marriage, and parenting: working it out in dual-earner families. In Handbook of Contemporary Families: Considering the Past, Contemplating the Future (pp. 155-173). SAGE Publications, Inc., 

Martin, M., Emery, R., & Peris, T. (2004). Single-parent families: risks, resilience, and change. In Handbook of Contemporary Families: Considering the Past, Contemplating the Future (pp. 282-301). SAGE Publications, Inc., 

Journal post:

Reflecting on the week’s readings, what do you find to be the most relevant takeaways from the week’s lessons? What did you discover?  How can you apply what you have learned or share it with others?

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