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Chapter 3: Family Rules, Structure, and Development. Upstate. Rules and Structure. Rules -> _________ patterns -> structure Each family has unique structure __________ describe what is supposed to be; _____ relate to what is. Remember rules are often _______/out of awareness. Upstate.

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Chapter 3: Family Rules, Structure, and Development

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rules and structure


Rules and Structure
  • Rules -> _________ patterns -> structure
  • Each family has unique structure
  • __________ describe what is supposed to be; _____ relate to what is.
  • Remember rules are often _______/out of awareness
how do rules and structure develop


How Do Rules and Structure Develop?
  • Prenuptial agreement?
  • Cultural Influences
  • Family-of-Origin Influences
  • “In your couple relationship, you either repeat what you learned in your family or you tend to do the opposite.” (Olson)
  • Personality Influences/biological influences
is there an ideal family structure


Is there an ideal family structure?
  • Clear _________
  • Hierarchical __________:

In healthy families “there is an unambiguous hierarchy of power, with leadership in the hands of the parents, who form a united coalition.” (Nichols)

3. ________

Healthy families are similar in 3 ways: (Nichols)



  • Satir’s: Healthy rules should support 5 freedoms: p___, t___, f___, c___, sa ___.
  • Healthy/Unhealthy rules: p. 59-60

Burr, Day, and Behr: Families can only operate when … shared, implicit, _________ comfortable. p. 62.

characteristics and functions of rules p 61 62


Characteristics and Functions of Rules (p. 61-62).
  • Often implicit
  • Allow for accountability
  • Denote physical and psychological boundaries
  • Regulate closeness and distance
  • Regulate roles
  • Regulate flexibility-rigidity and exceptions
  • Address implementation and violation.


Dancing in Families

  • Rule Sequences:

connected ______ of rules that governs a complex pattern of behavior

  • Involve a ______ pattern
  • Can be healthy - rituals
  • Can be unhealthy, called____________, p. 64.
  • Sometimes called ______
  • Examples, p. 64
  • Example - Brice family, p. 17 Crucible; textbook examples, p. 64.
dances couples do


Dances Couples Do
  • Pursuer/Distancer Dance
  • Drifting Dance
  • Conflictual Dance
  • The Circular Dance
  • The Overfunction-Underfunction Dance
  • Purpose of dances -
  • Often regulate & control some ______ and deal with issues of ___________________. p.68
cohesion and adaptability olson s model


Cohesion and Adaptability – Olson’s Model
  • Cohesion __________ the forces which ____ family members together
  • Families vary on cohesion (closeness)
  • p. 69-70
  • Dimensions measured by FACES inventory

Disengaged Separated Connected Enmeshed



  • Adaptability _________; how easily families can change or modify their rules
  • Families vary in regard to adaptability/flexibility

Rigid Structured Flexible Chaotic















There are nine Balanced types (+) and they are called Balanced because they are in the balanced range (3 central levels) on both closeness and flexibility.

In our studies of families, about 2/3 (66%) of families fall into the Balanced types. Also, our studies have indicated that these Balanced types have the most healthy and happy families.

The four Unbalanced types (X) are less common and the most extreme because they are Unbalanced on both dimensions of closeness and flexibility.

Over 80% of families that have major problems in their family (like adolescent runaways, drug use and abuse, other types of abuse) and also those that come for family therapy fall into these four unbalanced types.

family beliefs and ideology


Family Beliefs and Ideology
  • Family ideology - a ______belief system,

central to guiding family _____,

goals, and way of being

  • Covey’s family _______ statement
  • Mission statement would influence rules and rules lead to predictable behavior.
our marriage p 72


Our Marriagep.72

In our marriage

we promise to work together and cooperate in love

rather than be pulled apart by our differences.

We realize that work, children, and other duties

will often come between us


We promise never to allow this for long


we realize that the foundation of our lives is our loving relationship.

So we pledge to honor our relationship,

nurture our friendship, and sustain our love.


our family p 73


Our Familyp. 73

Our family is a place where we will

love, encourage, and nurture each other.

We will teach each other about our similarities and differences

and learn to appreciate and respect both.

We will teach each other about the world outside the family

so that we will be better prepared to meet the challenges of that world.

We will know that the journey of life begins in closeness and involves

a gradual separation over time.

When we are close we will attempt to nurture and love

so that when we separate we will feel confident in making our own way.

So be it in our family.

different ideology systems


Different Ideology Systems
  • Sometimes called family _________
  • Three types:

1. ______ – “right way” - traditional, parental authority, somewhat rigid

2._____ – flexible, tolerant, negotiates

3. _______ – few set schedules and rules, individual freedom

What happens when these families experience problems?

  • The ___________ principle – family tries harder, exaggerates it own character.
the importance of early understandings


The Importance of Early Understandings
  • The Epigenesis Principle-

what is done in the ______ stages in a relationship influences what can be and is done in later stages

  • Concrete example
  • When there is input that pushes for change

opposing forces in the family system attempt to preserve the status quo.

  • Morphostasis/morphostasis principle - the push to stay the same - attenuating/negative feedback
  • Morphogenesis/morphogensis principle – the push to change – amplifying/positive feedback
why is change so difficult in families burr day and bahr


Why is Change so Difficult in Families?Burr, Day and Bahr
  • Early rules have significant ________ and are associated with deeply felt ________
  • Many beliefs and feelings are __________ or partially unconscious
  • A rule becomes a part of a complex web of rules;

any attempt to change one rule has implications concerning other things.



  • Burr, Day, and Bahr state: (chap. 3, p. 77)
  • “Anyone who thinks couples can go back and restructure the basic aspects of their relationship

just does not understand the nature of family systems”

  • “A few parts of relationships can be changed later,

but a large number of things cannot,

and it usually takes a great effort to make even small changes.”



  • Although change difficult, change does occur
  • Some examples that produce change:

- the birth of a first child,

- your mother-in-law coming to live with you,

- your child growing up and needing fewer rules

  • Family not completely set or static

Stability may characterize each day

but some change does occur over time

what produces change


What Produces Change?
  • Expected Events – p. 78.
  • Called ____________ changes-

Are predictable, expected part of life

  • Examples:
  • Couple has first child
  • Child going off to school
  • Teenager learning to drive


The Family Life Cycle: Six Stages

  • The unattached young adult
  • Marriage
  • The family with young children
  • The family with adolescents
  • Launching children and moving on
  • The family in later life (p. 79)

Life course – many decisions and choices alter the life course. Thus, life can take many directions.

other events which produce change


Other events which produce change . . .
  • Unexpected Events: called ________________ changes –

not an expected part of life course (p. 80).

  • Examples:

- husband seriously injured in auto accident

- loss of job

- child arrested for drug possession

- adolescent announces he is gay

- divorce

- child becomes seriously ill.



  • Family does not usually have constant rate of change
  • but tend to have periods of relative stability followed by change
  • Periods of stability called ______
  • Periods of change called _________.
what individuals learn as family life unfolds


What Individuals Learn as Family Life Unfolds
  • Judith Viorst’sNecessary Losses
  • Roger Gould’s transformations
  • False assumptions learned in childhood must be overcome
  • Approximately 22-28 (false assumptions)

1) Life is fair

2) There is one right way

3) Others can do for me what I am unable to do for myself.



  • Later false assumptions

1) When I know something intellectually, I truly understand it

2) I understand those close to me quite well

3) I do not possess the undesirable characteristics of my parents

4) There are no real threats to my security.