Week two family

WeekTwo Discussions Summary

Weektwo’s discussions were a response to the question on how thefamilies manage external and boundaries through labeling,legitimizing and defending and also manage internal boundariesthrough naming, discussing, narrating and ritualizing. The discussionalso required students to air their views on different familystructures. Through these discussions a number of themes areapparent.

Newfamily structures

Somestudents explain that they are from separated or divorced familieswhich introduce new and unique structures different from the existingstructure or different from the traditional structure. Blendedfamilies, one where a parent has a different partner as opposed tothe parent, seems to be common and the society is already isaccustomed to such. However, it is easy to see that children in thosefamilies have different views of such structures. For instanceSchoeck says that blended families are important as they cushionsingle parents against financial strain and managing family affairswhile Rooney says that single parent families are better than blendedfamilies for kids because they allow them “to be more independent.”

Anothernew structure observed in the discussion is one that has adoptedfamily members. One student observes that her extended family hasadopted children from China. It would be expected that the physicaldifferences between members of such a family are so obvious to thepublic thus resulting in numerous questions. It therefore requiresone to explain the legitimacy of such a relationship to the public.This therefore makes a very good example of legitimizing anddefending the reason why the student has Chinese cousins. It marksthe external boundary between the family of the student and otherpeople probably even those of Chinese ethnicity.

Challengesassociated with divorce

Thechallenge of managing external boundaries increases in divorced orseparated families. Most students observe that separated familiesface the challenge or confusion especially in naming the people andespecially the new people in their parents’ lives. One student,Godbee (2014), notes that their dad took time to explain therelationship with the significant other in his life. This was inrecognition of the fact she was not their mother though she was closeto the family. Rooney also notes that having new members in thefamily where parents are divorced, blended families, can be trickyfor children as they are likely to have “different feelings” tofamily members to whom they have no blood relations.


Familyrituals seem to have the greatest influence in the identity of afamily and demarcating the internal boundary. Several studentsobserve that their families have been involved in some family ritualsthat work very well in preserving their family identity. Anderson forinstance notes that their extended family always gets together forthe holidays such as Thanksgiving and 4thof July. Another student also observes labeling as a key component increating the internal family boundary. To David the naming has to dowith assigning nicknames to members of the extended family. The sameis observed in another family that has adopted children. Althoughnaming is largely used as an expression of fondness in many families,it can also be used to express dislike for one member or even totaunt them secretly.

Fromthe discussions, it is clear that the students have a clearunderstanding of what family structures are and the differentchallenges that are brought about by different structures. Thediscussions expose students who might not have been exposed to adifferent family structure except their own about how they operate.