The Family of the Author's Best Friend

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A family unit is the basic social and functional unit of any society (Sharma, 2013). This fact arguably makes family the most important institution in existence as its effect on its members is immense and will reverberate through their lives from birth to death. Modern families are different and difficult to investigate due to the tendency to be untraditional. Families consist of members who differ regarding their belief systems, behaviors and values. That being said the role of the family in the development of an individual and its impact on the success or failure of the said individual in life could not be overestimated (Friedman, Jones & Bowden, 2003). This paper will attempt to will assess and analyze a family unit to determine the impact of functional patterns and role structure on the family,family relationships, and communication patterns and identify influences on family health promotion. The family that is the subject of this paper is the family of the author’s best friend.

This nuclear family consists of five individual namely, a husband, a wife and three children. They all resided in a single residence. The household has two breadwinners that are the husband and wife who are both pursuing cares in the field of healthcare. Moreover, this is a blended family of sorts as the wife was previously married and later divorced her previous husband to marry the current one. She also has a son from her previous marriage who is now one of the two brothers to the author’s best friend. The husband who is forty-eight years old is an ENT surgeon at a major hospital in San Antonio while the wife who is forty-five years is a physiotherapy nurse at a physical therapy clinic in San Antonio. The eldest child in the family is twenty-four years old and is an assistant foreman in Construction Company headquartered in San Antonio. The second eldest who is twenty-one years old is a nursing student at the University of Texas at Arlington and the youngest who is seventeen years old and is in high school.

Regarding education, every member is past or at least at the undergraduate level except the youngest member. The husband as mentioned has a Bachelor of Surgery degree, and he is has specialized in otorhinolaryngology. The wife has a nursing degree and is actively considering advancing her studies so that she can open her practice. The eldest son has a degree in building and construction. The second eldest is pursuing a nursing degree while the youngest is still in high school.

It is thought that the existence of a family unit is divided distinct stages that follow each other in series. The family that is the focus of this paper appear to be in a transitional stage between the fifth and sixth stage of a family’s development that is the Family with teenagers stage and the Launching stage respectively. The fifth stage is where the family’s eldest child is in the teen years, and this is where the children are groomed for independence and explore their personalities. The sixth stage is the duration between the time the eldest and the youngest of the children leave their home as young adults. The author argues that they are in the transitional stage because the eldest is about to move out as most of the lucrative job offers he is getting are in other neighboring states. He is also in a stable relationship with a girl, and he has often expressed the desire to have ‘a space of their own.’ The second eldest is about to complete his undergraduate studies and hopes to work and live on the east coast or abroad. The youngest is still taking her time determining her career path, but she speaks longingly of skipping college and taking up photography.

Recent studies and research has found strong positive correlations between social and cultural factors and the health of the individual and by extension the family unit (Berkman & Kawachi, 2000)(Marmot & Wilkinson, 2006). The author considers the family to be an upper-middle-class family of “university educated, professionals, and managers”(Friedman, Jones & Bowden, 2003). The entire family is of the Caucasian race. The husband has a German ancestry dating back to the 1820s when their predecessors first emigrated to the United States of America. Their paternal ancestors have participated in every war and conflict since with the husband serving for ten years as a medic despite having a fully-fledged degree in surgery and was deployed twice before leaving the military. The family can speak a little German and participate in German cultural festivals like Oktoberfest.

The family lives in the suburbs of San Antonio more specifically Alamo Heights. They have been there for the last ten years, and before that, the family resided in an apartment flat in the city. Every member of the household has their room in the house. The neighborhood they live in is multicultural, and their neighbors are of diverse racial identity though the most predominant race is White. There is a small community of people who have German ancestry in Texas and the often get together to celebrate events significant in German culture. The husband is also a member of a veterans group in Texas and does consultancy pro bono with them on weekends as they reminisce about the ‘good old days.’

Communication in the family is quite informal but respectful thanks to the tutelage of the husband courtesy of his stay in the military. There is a lot of good quality interpersonal communication between the family members and especially amongst the children despite being step-siblings. The parents have expressed that the children should feel safe and welcome to discuss any issue with them as long as they are forthright and honest with them. According to the author’s best friend, their parent's relationship with one another is ‘unique’ and ‘alive,’and they communicate regularly and enjoy each other’s company very much.

The power structure in a family is an important facet of the family as it institutes authority and stability in the household. The hierarchy of power in the family is a typical one with the husband, the patriarch, at the top followed by the wife then the eldest child to the youngest in that order. A power base describes where power and influenceare sourced. The wife is responsible for organizing and managing the family finances and as such she has authority over everyone’s expenditure and approvals for purchase. The eldest son is respected by both the parents and his younger siblings, and he uses this positions to liaise between the two coalitions: the parents and the children.

As with any other family unit each member has a role to play to enhance further and unite the family. The husband in our case study is the chief provider and highest authority of the family unit. The wife is the secondary breadwinner and the carer and nurturer of the family. The children are the future and core focus of the family. The husband can be best described as a gentle giant whom all the children love and adore and is equally authoritative and assertive when the situation demands it like when the children ‘step out of line’. The wife is the caring confidant to all of the members of the family unit complement the husband’s strict authority with her gentler approach to parenting in the classic ‘good cop bad cop’ approach. There seem to be hindrances in term of interactions in the family as each member of the family is approachable and respectful of each other’s opinions.

The family treasures the traditional values of honor honesty hard work and loyalty. The family’s appreciation of such values was imparted to them by the husband who in turn learned them from his ancestors who had served in the military just the husband had. Everyone is expected to be honest and forthright and to above all be respectful and care for one another in good times as well as bad. Rudeness tantrums and cursing are forbidden in the household.

The family has an open policy when it comes to spirituality and religion. It is at every member’s discretion to explore their spirituality, adopt the religion of their choice or simply refuse to partake in anything. There is only one rile in this regard, mutual respect. That being said all the members of the family are Christians.

The family like to spend their leisure time going to movies and another major event that they can attend as a family. They usually go to fast food franchises together to meet with other families and catch up. Both the wife and the husband have a social network of friends who are mostly drawn from their workplaces with whom they interact with when the opportunity arises.

Conflicts and stress in any family are a usual and necessary occurrence, and every family should find an optimal means to cope and solve such issues lest they derail the development of the family. The family has faced various challenges but has managed to stay intact as their coping strategies have proved to be effective. Their major coping strategy is an amazingly simple one: talking it out Due to the approachability of every member of the family, one is spoilt for choice when one wishes to ‘decompress’ by sharing a problem or ordeal that has befallen them. Any internal conflict is solved similarly though in this case an arbiter usually the wife is usually present to ensure fairness.

The family firmly believes that health is a function of life and lifestyle choices and each member has taken pre-emptive steps to safeguard their health. The husband jogs three times a week and hopes to run a 42-kilometer marathon one day. He is trying to quit smoking. The wife does yoga and Zumba though her increasingly busy work schedule has been detrimental to her being able to partake. The eldest son jogs on weekends and cycles with his siblings whenever he can. The other siblings are moderately active as each goes to the gym every weekend.

The author recommends that the family should try to find more time to bond together as they are in a transitional stage and in a few years all the children will leave home leaving the parents with an ‘empty nest.’ The wife also would do well to recommit herself to an exercise regimen as it will help the stress she will experience as a result of her busy work schedule. A cooperative routine like working out with the husband would be an excellent option.

The family as the basic unit of society ought to be the new focus of health care especially now when there has been a shift in healthcare toward preventative health care with an emphasis on control and pre-empting illness.


Berkman, L., & Kawachi, I. (2000). Social epidemiology (1st ed., pp. 3-12). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Friedman, M., Jones, E., & Bowden, V. (2003). Family Nursing: Research, Theory, and            Practice (5th ed., pp. 4,17). Upper Saddle River (N.J.): Prentice Hall.

Marmot, M., & Wilkinson, R. (2006). Social determinants of health (2nd ed.). New York:            Oxford University Press.

Sharma, R. (2013). The family and family structure classification redefined for the current times. Journal Of Family Medicine And Primary Care, 2(4), 306.  

October 13, 2023

Health Family

Subject area:

Family Values

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Expertise Family Values
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