The Paw Print
It is seven o’clock and most students are rushing towards their television screens to watch the new installment of their favorite show. It is just like any other night on campus, except last Wednesday, the 22 of September, was the first lecture in the ASC Faculty Lecture Series.
To begin the fourth year of the lecture series, Dr. Linda Christian, professor of teacher education gave a lecture entitled “All in the Family: Understanding Family Dynamics” which was a lecture filled with humor although some of it was lost on the younger members of the audience.
The lecture resembled something that would be seen in class on any normal day, complete with a PowerPoint presentation and a few people taking notes. This lecture easily kept the audience, made up of locals, Christian’s peers, and a few students, awake and eager to participate in discussions.
“I thought it went well,” said Christian about the lecture, who was also surprised by the roughly twenty-six people who attended the lecture. “People want to stay home with their family instead of hearing about their family.”
Television families were used to help illustrate her main points, for example families from older TV shows got along very well while newer television families are more dysfunctional, which reflects many present day American families.
The main point of the lecture was to open eyes about families not only providing reasons for their behavior, but also how and why this behavior affects not only the children in the families but also the adults.
She described family as a system, explaining that when placed on a spectrum, families either fall in the category of enmeshed or disengaged.
Enmeshed families have an emotional connection; a person’s identity is linked to their family. If one person in a family does something wrong, it not only reflects on that person, but on the entire family. This is the kind of family where everyone is involved in everyone else’s business.
Disengaged families are the complete opposite. Children are allowed to do their own thing and ultimately be their own person. This type of family is less emotionally involved in one another’s life.
“We don’t like to admit we have a role in people’s malfunctions, but sometimes we do,” says Christian.
Understanding where someone came from is necessary in education. “There would be kids in class that you would struggle with and because the thing you were taught, you wouldn’t understand them [the kids], then you would see their families,” at which point you would understand the kid and their behavior. Understanding family dynamics the way Christian explains it would help teachers understand their students and give them patience when necessary.
Christian states that most schools are geared towards the type of family where there are 2.5 kids, a mother that stays at home and a dad who works, she also provides the statistic that only three percent of present day families are made up like that.
“I hope people use it [family dynamics] as a way to understand family, not in a way to point fingers and blame other people for their own faults.”