Family Problems Group 1

By: Brittney, Alyx, Miranda, Jessica, Mincong


Our group has a wide variety of family problems and experiences. Every family is different, and as a group we represent that diversity. Some of us have similar situations. For example, Miranda, Alyx, and Jessica have all dealt with their parents getting a divorce. Some of us have different experiences: Brittney had her two cousins move in with her due to her aunt not being able to afford it, and Mincong spent a large amount of her childhood with her grandparents because her father was a very busy businessman. A majority of us have dealt with the effects of the recession hitting during the early 2000’s, which caused our parents to lose jobs or to move. Alyx parents got a divorce when she was very young due to her father’s drug addiction. She struggled with it early on, but now she’s happy and loves her close relationship with her mother. As stated earlier Brittney had her two cousins move in with her at a young age, but her main experiences now are with the families she nannies for. She’s been with families who are dual-income, stay at home mothers, and single mothers who work and need her help. Mincong’s father is a businessman, so she was raised by her grandparents. She feels that this led to a generation gap between her parents and her and her siblings. Miranda’s family struggled a lot. Her parents suffered from depression and anxiety, and so did the majority of her siblings. She moved often and her parents struggled to keep their marriage going. The recession hit them hard and her father lost his job many times. Eventually her parents got a divorce, but she keeps her head held high, and loves her family’s strength. Finally, Jessica’s parents also got a divorce when she was a teenager. Her mother remarried and Jessica became part of a blended family which brought its own set of struggles. Her experience with divorce made her realize the fragility of the institution of marriage.

Our Experiences Connected to the Book

The statistical likelihood of a marriage beginning today and ending in divorce is about 50-50” (67). So, it is without question that many of us are directly affected by divorce. The text shares many statistics about family problems such as divorce and violence within the family. When discussing divorce, many people believe the myth that it is more beneficial for a couple to stay together if they have a child, believing that the child would be better off living with parents who argue constantly versus having divorced parents. This is untrue. The book actually states that, “Repeated investigations of divorce and its effects on children have failed to demonstrate the psychological benefits to children of maintaining an unhappy marriage. It may, in fact, be more damaging than divorce” (59). In Alyx’s experience, it is clear to her that her parent’s divorce was the best option for her mother and herself. Living with parents who hate each other and are constantly arguing models a very unhealthy view of what a married couple should look like for their child. Alyx’s experience shows how a divorce can be a positive event in a child’s life. She now has an amazing relationship with her mother and many other family members and she has been able to be successful socially and academically, despite her parents divorcing. This is not to say that divorce is to be taken lightly. “Research consistently shows that without question, divorce is difficult for children, and living in a loving home is certainly preferable to experiencing an unhappy home or divorce” (70). That said, if the home was somewhat happy before the divorce, the cons to divorce may outweigh the pros. Jessica dealt with both divorce and the blending of a family. Her parents were known to fight but looking back Jessica was happy as a child while her parents were still married. The possible effects of divorce on children is explained in great detail in Chapter 3 of our text starting on page 70. These effects can include feeling responsible, guilty, a sense of failure, conflicted, and worried. Children that deal with the divorcing of parents often act out and are prone to delinquency. Other statistics include children getting lower grades and having higher school dropout rates. Some reasons for these negative effects on children can include, but likely aren’t limited to, that divorce reduces their access to various resources and emotional support and role modeling that comes along in a healthy and intact home. In Jessica’s case, she doesn’t remember being emotional about the divorce but her high school grades dropped and she did start getting into more trouble in and out of school. Not only did she deal with her parents divorce, but a relatively short time frame later her mother remarried and she became a part of a blended family. Our text points out that it is not uncommon for divorcees to remarry. “75-80 percent” of those that are divorced will eventually remarry (67). Blended homes can create “complications and tensions” which Jessica did experience in her blended home (69). Brittney's own family wasn't divorced but her family did take in her cousins, and their parents were divorced. She was able to see how their divorce impacted her cousins. Those cousin's had similar experience to Jessica's. Their father re-married but acted like they didn't exist, which made it incredibly hard for them. The book states that "divorced people are often depressed, lonely, frustrated and angry" (69). Brittney's aunt suffered from severe depression after her and her husband got divorced. Her aunt got caught up in drugs due to this depression and anger, which is why her parents took in her cousins. Brittney feels that every family has different problems, and when families have similar problems, such as divorce, these problems can still have a variety of outcomes and effects on families.

Impact of Divorce on the Quality of Life in School-Age Children

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Point of View of Social Construction of Power and Difference

“Divorce could be seen as a social problem if those functions that are typically served by the family were to go unperformed, such as children not being raised properly to become contributing members of society” (9). Although “the statistical likelihood of a marriage beginning today and ending in divorce is about 50-50” (67), our society still views divorce as a sign of failure. From the interactionist perspective, a social problem exists when some social condition is defined by an influential group as stigmatizing or threatening to its values and disruptive of normal social expectations. “...... divorce is viewed by many groups as a social problem because these groups see marital dissolution as posing a threat to family stability. If the family is such a basic social institution, divorce may challenge shared meanings and definitions that these groups hold about this institution” (11). The problem with this statement is that our current society doesn’t have just one shared meaning and definition of family. As seen in our experiences, as well as, many classmates’ responses, there are so many different types of families who have experienced completely different things. Each family is different and evolve over time. I think it’s important to acknowledge the change and growth that occurs in a family during important life events such as divorce, new family members, moving or relocating, loss of a job, death in the family, or serious illness. Just as individuals experience emotions and reactions to these events, families experience them together. Miranda’s experience with her parent’s life of instability, emotionally and financially, is an example of how those major life events changed the perspectives of the individuals in her family and how the family unit and dynamics changed over time. The textbook states, “children in divorced homes are better off than children in homes headed by an unhappy, conflict-ridden marriage (70).” Although for some families, divorce is the better option to decrease or eliminate family violence or turmoil, decrease stress, and keep the family safe as mentioned in Alyx’s experience, it still has been shown to have negative effects on personal wellness and mental health. Our textbook states that “divorced people are often depressed, lonely, frustrated and angry (p. 69).“ In Miranda’s experience, her parents were depressed, lonely, frustrated, and angry while they were married, but then also experienced these same feelings after divorcing. In some situations, it is important to look at the well-being of the individual and how their physical, mental, emotional, and social needs need to be met before they can begin meeting these needs for someone else.
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How Our Experiences Relate to Inequality and Discrimination

Family problems in the world today seems to happen due to different types of inequality and discrimination. For example, Brittney stated how she nannies for families in Corvallis. Some families struggle with child care, and sometimes it looks like the system is working against them. This inequality seems connected to class. It’s related to class because there are families out there that are single income, and sometimes that single income may be minimum wage or just slightly over. Child care is a luxury to these families, and sometimes they can’t afford it. Without child care, this can make it harder for a single parent to work, or get stuff done. Which then can affect the children in the long run. According to the book, “children of single parents are more prone to getting into trouble with the law and have a decline in school performance” (75). This could be because of the lack of presence the parent has in their lives. The parent is busy working to get food on the table, and can’t afford to be there or hire childcare.

Another example is: Jessica, Alyx, and Miranda all have had their families go through divorce. Divorce can connect to many inequalities, but let's focus mainly on gender. Women are more likely to serve in a subordinate positions, sometimes not working outside the home and thus when they divorce “are much more likely than men to suffer economic decline after divorce” (69). Gender is a social problem of divorce. Women end up “worse off” because courts typically divide up only tangible property and don’t consider the professional growth of a husband’s career. (69) The old saying, “Behind every good man is a good woman” speaks to this very topic. If a wife stays home, tends to the home, bills, family and offers moral support does she have vested value in her husband’s career? After watching the interview with Steve Ortiz, Jessica felt that stay at home wives may come to be considered unequal to their spouse and/or may suffer a level of oppression and conformity. Their marriage molds to their spouse's career and his/her dedicating to such career. Brittney felt pretty similarly. She felt that these relationships see pretty old fashioned - in a way that woman are in charge of the house, kids, cleaning, and should support her husband while he is busy working all day long.

Divorce can also affect the class status of children. Our text points out that “children are often worse off when raised by one parent rather than two. The difficulties of children in single parent families are due to three factors: low income, inadequate parental guidance and less access to community resources” (247). Furthermore, low income and/or low education does make it more difficult to achieve a successful marriage and thus divorce is more common in low income households (68). In reading Excerpts from Unequal Childhoods, children who are raised in middle class families with middle class parents have a sense of concerted cultivation and entitlement. This benefits these children as they are better prepared to enter into adulthood with confidence in their ability to fit in and belong in higher social and educational settings. (Lareau 69)