Family Stressors and Strengths

Family stressors and strengths determine the direction of the unit as they inform the ability of the family to cope with challenges. It is crucial to point out that it is not whether contemporary families have challenges or not but rather their preparedness to address and hence overcome them. Different family setups have different stressors and strengths which largely depend on the personalities, income levels, sexualities among other traits and practices of the family members. Income levels, medical insurance, divorce and family arguments are some of the stressors while respect, honesty, trust, and faithfulness are examples of strengths in contemporary households. This paper delves into stressors and strengths in the modern families with an emphasis on how two income households affect families. The article also explains how stressors and strengths affect the individual family members with an objective to achieve an informed stance on the topic.

Stressors are combinations of factors that strain relations in families and hence interfere with the effective functioning of the units. Some stressors are informed by personal traits of the individuals in the families while external factors that are beyond the control of the members cause others. For example, the incomes of the family members are subject to influence by other factors without the family setup. A divorce, on the other hand, is beyond the control of the children, yet it is a major family stressor. Stressors have various levels of effects on the family members based on the ability of the members to adjust.


Whereas there are many stressors in families, incomes availability and amount remains a major stressor, mainly due to the role it plays in influencing all the other factors. Low levels or lack of wages lowers the ability of contemporary families to meet the medical insurance needs of the members, creating uncertainty and therefore stress. Low wages also affect the educational requirements of the children which could compel them to drop out of school and engage in illegal practices such as crime and drugs peddling, further compounding the issue. The death of a loved one in the family creates grief and anxiety as the members struggle to cope with the loss, based on the role that the deceased played during their lifetime. The arrival of a new member of a family is a major stressor in most families. In the birth of a baby, older children may feel threatened by the new arrival leading to stress. The situation is particularly the case where the children are not psychologically prepared for the advent. The eventuality could reduce cooperation of children on family matters, adversely affecting family function.

In their article, Östberg & Hagekull define family stressors as a compound of all the elements that interfere with the smooth operation and duties of the contemporary families. According to the authors, any interference with the fabric that holds families together constitute to stressors. The ability of the parents to meet the bills is deemed a central factor around which all functions rotate. The marriage of a parent after a divorce is also a source of stress for the children and hence it is incumbent upon the parents to consider the welfare of the young ones before they engage in such vital decisions. Divorce is one stressor in the family that leads to a massive alteration in the family structure. It changes the incomes and hence the ability of the household to meet the financial requirements, based on differences in the salaries of the divorced spouses. The outcome of the divorce determines how the resulting family structure addresses its medical, entertainment, educational and other needs of the family. The stressor, therefore, has a huge implication on the future of the household members and hence all efforts to minimize its effects are significant. An illness of family member is a major stressor in most contemporary families. The stressor leads to anxiety that affects the performance of duties of all the members. The stressor implies that the ill member gets more attention and therefore affects other areas in dire need, ultimately influencing the planning and goals of the families.

Strengths comprise of all the ingredients that hold the family together and hence enhance the efficient operations among the members. The advantages consist of the ability of the families to address, cope and overcome the stumbling blocks and challenges in their day to day lives. Appreciation and affection make the family members feel valued and therefore polish them in the performance of their roles within the family. For example, a spouse who appreciates the other for their financial contribution motivates the spouses to perform even better and therefore promote the objectives of the families. The commitment of the household members is crucial in the realization of goals and smooth operation of the unit. It defines the readiness of a member to play their role to contribute to a betterment of the family. The readiness and willingness of a member to compromise during arguments to ease tensions demonstrate their commitment to improve relations and enhance respect within the family unit.

Bryan & Henry, explain the significant role played by active communications in contemporary households. The author expounds that constant communication is the single factor that promotes, empowers and guides the family in the realization of the shared goals. Active communication eliminates anxiety as events, and behavioral patterns are predictable, therefore improving the ability to plan. For example, spouses who engage in constant communication about their career progress, provide projections on future earnings which are important in the planning of the educational needs of the children. The authors also underscore the importance of honesty and faithfulness at the family level. Faithful family members acquire sensitive roles that ultimately affect the function of entire families. In a marriage, faithful spouses eradicate constant quarrels and hence lower the stress levels among all other members of the family. Honesty informs a sense of stability in the contemporary families, as members demonstrate that they are genuine and hence reduce suspicion reducing sources of conflicts. Adaptability is vital to the modern families as it enables the family members to adapt to current realities which have an impact on the efficient operations of the family members. For example, children who adjust as they settle with step-parents greatly enhance the proper functioning of such households.

Stressors consist of all the factors that negatively affect the operations of the families. They include unexpected behaviors of family members such as drug addiction or even the death of a loved one. Lack or low-income levels in the family are also a major stressor which has huge implications for families. Family strengths, on the other hand, are the vital ingredients necessary to hold families together. They include respect, care for each other, and ability to compromise among others. The strengths of the family mainly originate in their structures and efficient communication. The role of each member is clearly defined which reduces areas of conflicts and overcomes duplication of responsibilities.

From the assessment of the discussed articles, future research on families should focus more on the impacts of stressors in the family units, to explore mitigation measures. It would be incumbent upon the professionals such as psychologists and counselors who are prominent on the family issues to emphasize the individual differences at the family level. Such approach would ensure that existing strengths are fully exploited to enhance the overall functions of entire families.

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