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1.Apply family life cycle theory to a family that you know well. Interview a family unit, comprising at least 2 persons. Apply the theory and explain the stressors and challenges/ problems faced? Cite the least three examples of application of the theory to illustrate your understanding of how the theory is applicable in the local context. Explain the second order change required for the family in order that the family can transit well through this life stage.

2.Interview and assess the family through a structured questionnaires translated through bio-psycho-social-spiritual model. The objective is for you to understand the impact of these 4 dimensions on individual family members and the family as a whole and identify resilience in the family.

3.Reflect on your engagement skills throughout the interview with the family in terms of rapport, interview structure, clarity of questions and how questions are put across.

4.Attached a genogram of the familly (at least 2 generations of the family) interviewed with symbols and/ or descriptions to indicate dynamic pattern, living arrangement, descriptors of individual members. Also attach a list of questions used for Question 2. Next to each question prepared for the interview, state the theory/ model/ checklist/ consideration for the question.

Determining Stressors/ Challengers in a Family using the Family Life Cycle Theory

The family lifecycle theory is often referred to as a process by which a series of changes takes place in the family structure all of which are heavily prompted by the developmental needs of the family. This is a process that includes the broadening, contracting as well as realigning of various family relationship patterns for the purpose of supporting the exit, the entry as well as the development of the different members of family in a manner that is healthy and constructive (Greene, 2017). Such spiraling gives members within the family the scope or the opportunity to work on as well as rework issues of individuality and closeness. A number of symptoms are seen to arise for families and individuals when a derailment occurs in the family cycle, when the family loses its sense of movement in course of time, that is when things happen that are not supposed to be happening, when the family is unable to cater to the developmental needs of a vital member of the family and when the person whose developmental needs are not met is also not able to meet the needs and requirements of his or her family members. In the latter situation, the members of the family who are not able to meet the needs of this particular family member become symptomatic and what ensues is a dysfunctional transactional spiral that forms an unhealthy but inevitable element of the family cycle (Le-Bretton Miller & Miller, 2015). This report provides an overview of an interview conducted with a family comprising of two persons, an elderly couple, living in Singapore and indicates all the stressors and the challengers faced by the family using the family cycle theory. The report then highlights the second order change needed for the family to successfully transit through this life stage, provides an assessment of the family using a structured interview method based on the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model and concludes by reflecting on the engagement with the family based on rapport, interview structure, clarity of questions and the manner in which questions are put across.

The family cycle theory is characterized by five important stages (Becvar & Becvar, 2017).  The first stage involves leaving home as single young adults. This is the time when individuals disconnect and connect with their family while being their own person all at the same time. The second stage involves the joining of families through partnership. This is when adjustment and adaptation takes place. The third stage is known as families with young children. During this stage new members are accepted into the family system. The fourth stage is called families with adolescents. In this stage boundaries are flexed for the independence of children and grandparents become frail. The fourth stage is known launching children and moving on. This is when entries to and exits from the family system are accepted. The fifth stage is families in later life. During this time shifting generational roles are accepted (Bodie, 2015). Using these five stages of the family life cycle theory, the couple interviewed for this assessment in Singapore will be analyzed.

Leaving Home: Single Young Adults

2.1. Leaving Home: Single Young Adults 

The family interviewed for assessment has been living in Singapore for the last fifty odd years. They started out as a young and ambitious couple from Malaysia who had individually migrated to Singapore for the purpose of taking up higher studies and fell in love when they met on campus at the National University of Singapore. Both the man and the woman are native Malays and had a lot in common with each other culturally, ethnically and religiously (Kotlikoff, 2016). Both of them could easily identify with the challenges of making it big professionally and otherwise in a country that was different from their own and were able to overcome many of the issues and the challenges that migrants face in a new country of residence because of their love and support for one another. During their days as young and ambitious students in Singapore, they could relate easily to their peers in Singapore city and made many common friends. The wife was particularly a huge favorite among their friends circle in Singapore because of her fantastic ability to sing and dance and her husband was hugely popular among of his ability to play the guitar. He would play while she would sing and with their charming nature and musical talents they were able to attract huge numbers of people to become a part of their social circle. Their independence in the new country gave them a lot of confidence and happiness and they were able to graduate well enough from university in Singapore and take up professions that were suited for their abilities. They both landed positions in the banking and finance sector in Singapore, something that make them quite an incredible couple as they were able to support each financially very well at the time, without relying on their parents and extended family in Malaysia and were even doing better than most other couples their age or a  little older in Singapore. They were brash, brazen and confident and felt at this stage of their life together that they could achieve just about anything. After two years of successfully working together, the couple decided that the time was right to settle down and create a beautiful family, while maintaining their jobs at the same time (Lesser et al., 2015).

2.2. Joining of Families through partnership 

Upon getting married, there was not a lot of adjustment that the couple had to make in relation to their friends and their peers. This is because they belonged to a common friend circle prior to marriage itself since they had been in a relationship in Singapore even since their student days. Their close friends were known to one another so there was no need for one person to adapt to the set of friends that the other person had. When it came to adjusting to family members, there was not much compromise there either. Both the man and the woman are Malays and at the time of marriage were united by a common culture (Morgan, 2014). Neither of them had to change their religion after marriage and culturally, their parents accepted both of them in unison as there was no conflict that was seen to arise with respect to differences in the cultural backgrounds of families.

Joining of Families through partnership

2.3. Families with Children 

Within six months of getting married, the Malay couple in Singapore that was interviewed for this assessment decided that the time was ripe for having children. Being an ambitious couple, they were not prepared for the challenges that parenthood was likely to bring for them. After nine months passed, the couple gave birth to a set of twins. They were of course over the moon about it. However, the lady had to give up her job at the bank in order to dedicate her efforts towards being a full time mother. This was difficult for her because she was so used to having a good job, a good set of professional colleagues and friends and most importantly a steady and terrific source of income, which was now no longer available at her disposal. Raising two children was not a mean task and there was plenty of running around that she had to do in order to give both her babies the attention that they deserved while her husband was busy at his day job. While her parents and her in-laws did help out to a considerable extent by visiting her in Singapore and babysitting the children, there was a lot of adjustment that both she had to go through in terms of getting used to a new set of family members in the house, their babies, giving up on one major source of income, and being housebound. As new first time parents, they could no longer enjoy the social life that they once had.

2.4. Families with Young Children 

The Malay couple in Singapore devoted the next twenty years of their life into raising two beautiful twin children, one girl and one boy. They grew into fabulous young adults, did very well in school and graduated well enough to be accepted into the National University of Singapore at the age of eighteen just like their parents. The children were not troublesome in their growing years as revealed by their parents. They did not take to drugs and alcohol at a tender age and while they had a good circle of friends and a decent social life, they did not go overboard and had no tendency to party hard, stay out late in the night or break rules. Upon graduating from the National University of Singapore, both children decided to emigrate to the United States of America for higher studies. Their parents were left alone to their own devices after a very long time and it was not easy for them to see their children leave the home after having stayed with them for so long. It was emotionally and mentally a turbulent time for the Malay couple as the house grew quieter and they were not able to laugh and joke or feel as good as they would when their children were around (Petronio, 2017).

2.5. Launching Children and Moving On 

After a few months had passed since their children left the home for another country, the couple accepted their exit silently and decided to spend more quality time with each other. The wife took to teaching banking courses part time at a local school based on her qualifications and work experience in the sector while the man retired from his job with decent savings. They did not have to worry about financing their children’s education in the new country as their children had taken loans to support themselves. Within the next three years tragedy struck and the couple received their news of their son having died in the USA because of a car accident. The loss made the couple numb with grief and although they had each other to turn to for support, they only became more distant from one another, unable to control the pain that the loss brought them.

Families with Children

2.6. Families in Later Life 

Things became worse down the line. While they had their daughter to give them comfort over phone and email, the couple lost both their sets of parents as a result of prolonged illness and themselves had to combat with the challenges of old age like rheumatism, arthritis and night time blindness (Titelman, 2014). Their movements became restricted to the home for the most part, leaving the house only to purchase groceries and other things needed for running the household. Their daughter got married and settled down in the USA. Things became slightly better for them after she gave birth to a child and the couple became grandparents for the first time. However, they were not willing to fly to the USA and see their grandchild as the loss of their son is too difficult for them to do so. Their daughter visits them three times a year but today the couple, are disconnected from each other, each grieving for their lost child, their son in their own individual way. They are no longer the support system for each other that they once were (Sampson, 2017).

2.7. The Need for Second Order Change 

The second order change that the family needs to go through to overcome the difficult transition brought to the family by the loss of their loss is loving and gentle communication. When the woman is down and the man is down, he should consider cooking her, her favorite meal and this may just improve her mood considerably. When he sits looking out at the window on a cold winter’s night, she needs to hold his hand and tell him that she loves him instead of moving away from him and retiring to bed (Soust-Verdaguer et al., 2016).

Q1. Has there been any history of family trauma or suicide attempts?

A1. None

Q2. Did you smoke and drink during pregnancy?

A1. No.

Q3. Were there any complications during childbirth?

A3. Labor pains were greater than anticipated. The delivery took at least six to eight hours to complete, so yes it was painful but not complicated.

Q4. Have you had any major illnesses in your life like epilepsy or malignancy?

A4. No

Q5. What is the present status of your health right now? Are there any major illnesses that you are suffering from?

A5. Rheumatism is common for both of us. My husband has more severe bouts of it than I do. I am also unable to see very well in the night.

Q6. Are you both taking any prescribed medication?

A6. No. We believe in alternative medication as it is less harmful than regular medication.

Q7. How were you both treated as children when young? Were there any losses that either of you had to cope with.

A7. None whatsoever. Both my wife and I had a smooth and happy childhood. We both had caring and loving sets of parents who were ambitious and wanted the best for us. They wanted us to pursue careers and find happiness in Singapore and have the opportunities they never did. We studied in Singapore, met, fell in love, and pursued careers in the banking sector. We had a great circle of common friends. I used to play the guitar, my wife used to sing and dance beautifully. We were so happy.

Families with Adolescents

Q8. Did you experience loss after marriage?

A8. The initial years after marriage were great. We had a happy family with two young children. Although my wife gave up working after child birth and there were initial insecurities regarding income, we managed to work through that issue. Both our children left Singapore at age 21 for the USA for higher studies after graduating very well from the National University of Singapore, just like we did, but within three years we lost our son to a car accident in the USA. We have not been able to accept that loss till today.

Q9. Who is it that you turn to for support? Do you have extended family?

A9. No, my wife and I have to rely on one another for support. Our daughter visits us sometimes but not very frequently.

Q10. Tell me about what your financial situation is like?

A10. We are comfortable financially as we both had great jobs prior to retirement. Our daughter also sends us money from the USA. She is working there as a doctor. Sometimes my wife works part time as a teaching in banking studies. I am retired but have managed to save enough from my work life to keep us secure now.

Q11. Do you have any spiritual belief system?

A11. My wife and I are atheists. We are non believers you can say.

Q12. Were you both religious when young?

A12. Yes we come from traditional Malay Muslim families where religion forms an important part of daily life. However, my husband and I decided to do away with religion when we met and entered into a partnership here in Singapore.

The engagement skills deployed for interviewing the Malay couple included attention, empathy, patience, understanding and careful listening. The Malay couple was interviewed using the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual model. Some of the engagement skills that were employed in order to undertake this interview include attentive listening, empathy, patience, trust and adaptability, all of which helped in getting the couple to open about themselves and their family life. It is clear from the answers that they gave that they both enjoyed a happy and healthy childhood, that they had a great run in their initial years in Singapore and that tragedy struck them only later in life when their son died in the USA. The couple was quite matter of fact and forthcoming in their answers but kept their answers very short. A lot had to be deciphered and analyzed from what they had to say. The sadness is evident in the way they spoke about their son. It is clear from their answers and their expressions that they are not able to cope with this loss and that they really need to improve their communication with each other in their twilight years in order to accept their fate and find love, happiness and comfort in each other once again.

References and Bibliography 

Aamar, R. O., Lamson, A. L., & Smith, D. (2015). Qualitative trends in biopsychosocial-spiritual treatment for underserved patients with type 2 diabetes. Contemporary Family Therapy, 37(1), 33-44.

Allen, R. S., & Carpenter, B. D. (2018). The international context of behavioural palliative and end-of-life care: biopsychosocial and lifespan perspectives. In Perspectives on Behavioural Interventions in Palliative and End-of-Life Care(pp. 11-21). Routledge.

Becvar, R. J., & Becvar, D. S. (2017). Systems theory and family therapy: A primer. Rowman & Littlefield.

Bernini, C., & Cracolici, M. F. (2015). Demographic change, tourism expenditure and life cycle behaviour. Tourism Management, 47, 191-205

Bodie, Z. (2015). Thoughts on the future: Life-cycle investing in theory and practice. Financial Analysts Journal, 71(1), 43-48.

Coster, W. (2016). Life cycle and economy. In Family and Kinship in England 1450-1800 (pp. 43-51). Routledge

Greene, R. R. (2017). Human Behavior Theory and Professional Social Work Practice. In Human Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice (pp. 31-62). Routledge.

Hodgson, J. L., Lamson, A. L., & Kolobova, I. (2016). A biopsychosocial-spiritual assessment in brief or extended couple therapy formats. Techniques for the couple therapist: Essential interventions from the experts, 213-217

Jensen, M. P., Adachi, T., Tomé-Pires, C., Lee, J., Osman, Z. J., & Miró, J. (2015). Mechanisms of hypnosis: toward the development of a biopsychosocial model. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 63(1), 34-75.

Kotlikoff, L. J. (2016). Essays on saving, bequests, altruism, and life-cycle planning. MIT Press.

Le Breton-Miller, I., & Miller, D. (2015). Learning stewardship in family firms: For family, by family, across the life cycle. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(3), 386-399.

Lesser, J. A., Murphy, P. A., & Jennings, S. A. (2015). A Test of the Descriptive Value of Family Life Cycle. In Proceedings of the 1983 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference (pp. 90-94). Springer, Cham.

Meneses, R. F. (2016). A biopsychosocial-spiritual model in health. Arquivos de Ciências da Saúde, 23(3), 01-02.

Morgan, D. H. J. (2014). The family, politics, and social theory (RLE social theory). Routledge.

Petronio, S. (2017). Communication privacy management theory: Understanding families. In Engaging theories in family communication (pp. 107-117). Routledge.

Saad, M., de Medeiros, R., & Mosini, A. C. (2017). Are We Ready for a True Biopsychosocial–Spiritual Model? The Many Meanings of “Spiritual”. Medicines, 4(4), 79.

Sampson, R. J. (2017). Family management and child development: Insights from social disorganization theory. In Facts, frameworks, and forecasts (pp. 63-94). Routledge.

Soust-Verdaguer, B., Llatas, C., & García-Martínez, A. (2016). Simplification in life cycle assessment of single-family houses: A review of recent developments. Building and Environment, 103, 215-227.

Titelman, P. (2014). Clinical applications of Bowen family systems theory. Routledge.

Yan, S., & Zhou, Y. (2016). Research of Work-Family Balance Based on Family Life Cycle. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 4(11), 218

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