1. Select a family structure that interests you.
2. Use the questions outlined in this overview to initiate a conversation with the family. You do not need to answer all the questions. Your objective is to understand the family dynamics surrounding the focus of your interview. At the end of the interview you should be able to not only describe the individuals experience with the situation for which you are interviewing them but also describe the family functioning around said context.
3. Using the information obtained in the interview and the theories we have covered in class, write a paper describing family functioning. This paper should be written in the language of family science (i.e. boundaries, roles, rules, function, structure, etc.).
The assignments will be submitted on Blackboard and will be due at the time class begins on the date due and no later. Late assignments will be docked 5 percent per day late (submission after 2:00pm will be considered late and 5% will be lost). Plagiarized assignments will be given a zero. The body of your paper should be a maximum 5 pages (not including coversheet, references, etc.), doubled spaced. Follow APA guidelines in your paper when appropriate (see tutorials about writing for instructions on APA format). This means include a cover sheet, references if needed, heading style, font size and type, margins, paper structure, etc. Grades will be based on the following criteria:
Clarity of writing (10 pts possible)
• Clear presentation of information about the family.
• The content of the paper should flow throughout.
• Outline the “story” you want to tell and avoid tangential information.
• Read your paper aloud for flow and clarity.
Clarity of Discussion about Family dynamics (40 points)
• I will be looking for your level of thought about the information discussed during your interview. To see if you have processed the interaction beyond the words spoken and tried to understand the family dynamics behind the contextual information. This is the key to getting a good grade.
• Your paper should focus on the function and process within the family not the structure or content of their situation.
• Don’t tell me about the family’s story. Tell me about how the family works! This means include very little descriptive information (their story) about the family (1/2 page max): age, marital status, education, family members, and job, family history, personal stories, etc. Do not use real names!
YOU do not have to answer all the questions. use them as a basis for writing your paper.
There are infinite family constellations, contexts and experiences that can be used for this assignment. The following is a list of possible family constellations/contexts/experiences and some questions you may use to start the conversation. You should not stick to the questions listed. Ask some of your own questions and most of all listen to the family and ask questions that follow up on what you have already asked.
If you would like to do an interview about a family constellation/context that is not represented you may come up with your own questions and email me them if you would like feedback on them.
1. Describe how you met your partner and how you made the decision to cohabit.
2. What were your main reasons for wanting to live together (e.g., companionship and intimacy, as a marital test, for financial reasons)?
3. What did your close friends and family members think about your decision?
4. How did you deal with the moral or ethical issues of cohabitation?
5. How do you decide about birth control? What methods do you use?
6. What are the benefits of cohabitating? What do you like most about this living arrangement?
7. What are some of the negative aspects (or problems) of living with someone?
8. Do you feel cohabitation is a good way to test a relationship before you get married?
9. What advice would you give a friend if she/he was considering cohabitation?
1. Describe the living situation in which you/your partner became pregnant. Were you engaged, or living with someone, or just dating?
2. Was the pregnancy planned or unplanned?
3. If the pregnancy was planned:
a. What made you decide to have a baby?
b. What consequences did you think this decision bring for you and/or your partner, and the child?
c. How did you plan to support yourself and/or your partner, and the child?
d. Do you believe your child will be disadvantaged in any way because he/she would not have married parents?
e. If one of you decides not to remain in the home with the child, do you think your child will be disadvantaged being raised by a single parent?
4. If the pregnancy was not intentional (if it was unplanned):
a. Were either of you trying to prevent pregnancy? How did this happen?
b. When you found out about the pregnancy, how did you feel? How did your partner feel?
c. What options did you/your partner consider (e.g., abortion, adoption, raising the child on your own]? Did you/your partner think about abortion or adoption? How did you/your partner make a decision about what to do? What things influenced your/your partner’s decision?
5. How is your life now affected by your/your partner’s decisions regarding this pregnancy? Did you wish you/your partner had made a different decision? Would you partner do things differently?
6. How do you feel now about you/your partner getting pregnant again? Would you want another non-marital pregnancy? What other thoughts and feelings do you have about this whole experience?
Early marital adjustment
1. Briefly describe how and when you met. How long was your dating and courtship period?
2. What attracted you to your partner? What important characteristics did you want in a spouse?
3. What did you expect married life to be like before you were married? Have there been any surprises or disappointments since your marriage?
4. What problems to you experience now that you never anticipated or expected?
5. How has your relationship with your spouse changed since your marriage? Does your partner treat you the same now as before the marriage?
6. What “tremendous trials” have you encountered since becoming married?
7. Are there things that are difficult to discuss or bring up even now that you are married?
8. What are the major things you disagree or argue about now that you are married? How have you handled the conflict in marriage?
9. Have you ever been so discouraged about the marriage that you wish you were not married?
10. How has your friendship network changed since getting married? How have you adjusted to in-laws and relatives?
11. What decision have you made about being parents?
12. What are some of the most enjoyable things about being married? What do you like best about being married?
13. What are you doing to make your marriage work and last?
14. What advice would you give a close friend about early marital adjustment?
The birth of your first child
1. Was your pregnancy planned or unplanned?
2. How old is your child?
3. What were the biggest adjustments to your life after you had a child?
4. What are some of the joys that come from having a child?
5. What are stressful or difficult issues you deal with as a parent?
6. How has your marriage changed since the birth of your first child?
7. Does your partner share the responsibilities of caring for the child?
8. Has having a child changed you?
Traditional/dual parent family
1. What did you expect married life to be like before you were married? Have there been any surprises or disappointments since your marriage?
2. How has your relationship with your spouse changed over time?
3. What “trials” have you encountered since your marriage?
4. What do you believe your relationship has done for your children/family?
5. Have you ever been so discouraged about the marriage that you wish you were not married? What made you stay together?
6. How do your children view you marriage? Is their perception accurate?
7. If you have children how has that impacted your relationship?
8. What are some of the most enjoyable things about being married? What do you like best about being married?
9. What has been most influential in making your marriage last?
Dual earner family
1. What impacted your decision about this type of arrangement? Do both spouses agree?
2. What type of child care do you have? How did you find it? How much does it cost? How do you feel about leaving your children in the care of other people?
3. What are some of the rewards and benefits of a dual earning marriage?
4. What are the major problems or challenges with this type of arrangement?
5. How is housework, cooking, and childcare shared between spouses? Is it fair and equitable, or would you like to see some changes made?
6. Do you have the energy and time to do things with your children and spouse? If so, how or when?
7. What have you done (or are you doing) to make your dual earning family work?
8. Do you use any time-saving devices or hire domestic services?
9. Do you have any advice for other dual earning families?
1. Briefly describe your marriage: how you met, when you were married, how long you are married, etc.
2. What are the things that you have difficulty dealing with in your marriage? What do you fight or argue about?
3. What do you do when you are upset at your spouse? How do you deal with your anger and/or frustration?
4. What upsets your spouse? What does your spouse do when he/she is upset with you?
5. What upset you about your spouse? What do you do when you are angry or upset?
6. Describe in some detail two fights/conflicts that you have recently had: What was the issue, how did you handle it, what were the good and bad things you did during the fight, what could you have done differently?
7. Are there some concerns you have about your partner or the marriage that you feel may never get resolved? Are there some sore spots that continue to bother you? How do you feel about this situation?
8. Have you ever been so discouraged with your marriage that you wished you were not married? Please explain.
9. Can you offer any advice to others about how to deal constructively with conflict in marriage?
1. Why did you get a divorce? What were the major causes for the marital breakdown?
2. How did your family and friends feel about the divorce? How did this affect the relationship between you and your previous in-laws?
3. How did you choose or select a lawyer? How much did it cost and how long did the process take?
4. What kind of settlement did you get (alimony, child support, property division, etc.]? Did you think the settlement was fair?
5. How have you coped emotionally with the divorce? How do you feel about yourself and the future?
6. How do you think your children have been affected by the divorce? Did you do anything to help them adjust to the situation?
7. How has your life changed since the divorce (financially, socially, employment, etc.]? Have you had to make major changes in your lifestyle?
8. How have things gone with working out visitation of your children by your ex-spouse?
9. What advice would you give to a friend who is planning or going through a divorce?
Children of divorced parents
1. Tell us about your parents’ divorce. Describe your living arrangements after the divorce?
2. How did you feel about the divorce when it happened? Do you see things differently today?
3. What things happened to you personally or to your single-parent family as a result of the divorce (Changes in lifestyle, friends, contact with relatives, the mother’s employment, where you lived, etc.)?
4. How did the divorce affect your relationship with the non-custodial parent? Also, how did and do your parents get along? What type of contact do they have?
5. Does the divorce affect the way you feel about relationships today? What are your feelings about marriage? Do you think you are more likely to get divorced because your parents were divorced? Why or why not? Also, what will you do to keep your marriage healthy so you don’t divorce?
6. How can parents help their children through divorce?
Child experience in remarriage
1. Describe your stepfamily situation: when it happened, who composed the new family, etc.
2. How did you feel about having a new, additional parent? What were (are) the problems and the good things about a stepparent?
3. How did you feel about your new step-siblings? What were the problems and what were the positive things about having new siblings?
4. Describe your relationship to your noncustodial parent. How did that relationship change?
5. Did your relationship to your custodial parent (probably your mom) change after he/she remarried?
7. What advice would you give parents about how to make a remarriage work and how to be an effective stepparent?
8. Discuss some other issue related to stepfamily life that has not been asked directly in the above questions.
Parent experience in remarriage
1. Did you have any hesitation or concerns about entering into a stepfamily? Why?
2. How did your children feel about your new marriage and becoming part of a stepfamily?
3. How did you feel about parenting your new spouse’s children?
4. How do those children feel about you?
5. What joys and satisfactions have you found in your new marriage? How is life different for you now than in your first marriage?
6. Did you (or do you) have any difficulties or challenges in parenting all the children? Explain.
7. Have you had any troubles in dealing with your spouse’s ex-spouse or with your ex-spouse?
8. What advice would you give to other couples beginning a stepfamily?
Single parent family
1. Describe your single-parent family situation: how you got to be a single parent, the age and gender of your children, etc.
2. If you are divorced, what type of custody and visitation arrangements do you have? How is it working out? Are there problems with the ex-spouse?
3. Do your children receive child support in full and on time? What problems have you had with child support?
4. What are the good things and bad things about parenting your children alone? Overall, do you think your children are better off now in a single-parent family?
5. If you have preschoolers, what child care arrangements do you have? How much does it cost? Is this working out?
6. How do you manage financially as a single parent? What are your sources of income? Do you get any Welfare assistance? If so, what kind?
7. How is your social life? Do you ever feel lonely? Would you like to get back into another relationship? How do you feel about dating and getting involved again?
8. How do you manage doing all of the things a single parent must do: working, parenting, housekeeping, cooking, etc.? Describe a typical day in your life.
9. What are some of the good things about your single-parent family life? Are you better off now than when you were married? If so, in what ways?
10. What advice could you give other single parents about how to manage their life and family?
Families with a disabled child
1. Describe your child’s disability and how it occurred.
2. Are you able to get the proper medical care that your child needs?
3. What are some of the special resources that your child requires?
4. What are some of the parenting challenges that you face with having a disabled child?
5. How have the siblings (if any) been affected by having a disabled brother or sister?
6. Are you treated differently by other people because you have a disabled child?
7. How has having a handicapped child affected your marriage?
8. What are some of the positive things that have come from this experience?
9. Has your family grown closer from this experience?
Empty nest couples
1. Describe how long you have been married, how many children, and when the last child left home.
2. How do you feel now that you are home alone without any children?
3. How has your marriage changed since the children have left?
4. Do you and your partner find that you have a lot to talk about?
5. What are some of the difficulties that you have experienced?
6. What are some of the positive experiences that have come from your children leaving the house?
7. Do you ever wish that your children were back at home with you?
8. If one of your children wanted to move back in would you let them?
Adult child returning home to live
1. Describe how and when your adult child returned home to live?
2. What kind of help or assistance has your adult child needed?
3. What are some of the challenges of having an adult child back home?
4. What conflicts have you had?
5. What are some of the rewards and joys of having your child back home?
6. How has this situation changed your relationship with your spouse?
7. Have you had other lifestyle changes because of having your adult child return home to live?
8. What lessons about life have you learned from this experience?
1. When did you become widowed? What happened to your spouse? How long were you married?
2. What were some of the difficulties you experienced after your spouse passed away? In other words, what are the hardest things you must deal with?
3. How have you managed to cope with the loss of your spouse? What has helped you?
4. Do you have children living at home, and if so how were they affected by this?
5. Are you able to provide financially for yourself? If not do you get any type of financial assistance?
6. What is the biggest concern for you have now that you are a widow?
7. What do you miss most about your spouse?
8. Is there a possibility that you may try to remarry?
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