This activity is intended to help you see that the information in this class can be applied to "real life" families as you find connections among the different elements in this class. You will look look at a "reel life" (film) or stage family and analyze what you see in relation to information from this class.
For this assignment, you will watch a film or see a play of your choosing. The only constraint is that the film or play needs to show family relationships. You can select a current or an older film. Examples include: Ordinary People, any one of the Godfather series, Mr. Mom, Sleepless in Seattle, The Joy Luck Club, Beloved, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Examples of plays include just about anything by O'Neil or Shakespeare. The film or play you choose is up to you. If you know other people in this class and you would like to watch a film or attend a play together, that would be fine. You will need to do your write-ups independently of each other.
After you have viewed the film or play, answer question 1 and choose 14 other questions from the 24 questions listed here. You will receive two points for each question answered). Be sure to number your answers.
_____ 1. Write a brief synopsis of the storyline. [REQUIRED]
_____ 2&3. Select one family to focus on. (2) Define this family (i.e., traditionally--legal and biological? non-traditionally--emotional and social connections? both?) (3) Who are the family members?
_____ 4. Using the information available, draw a genogram. This probably will be less than a 3-generation genogram. That is fine, because what you want is a visual representation of the family.
_____ 5. Remember that, in this class, we consider the family as an interactive system in which family members influence and are influenced by each other. Family members also serve some sort of purpose for the continued functioning of the family. Also remember that families can function in constructive and destructive ways, and all families do at least a little of both. With this in mind, look at the family members. What roles do they play in the family?
_____ 6&7. Boundaries are physical and metaphorical lines of demarcation that indicate who is in and who is out in a family. (6) How were boundaries an issue for this family? (7) In what ways were boundaries used?
_____ 8. How would you characterize the power hierarchies in the family? Remember, power can be seen as an element of the structure in the family and can be seen as a part of the process of "doing" family.
_____ 9-12. Family beliefs are the shared beliefs that exist in families. (9) What evidence did you see of shared beliefs? (10) Unshared beliefs? (11) Were there any family beliefs that did not seem to take for any of the members? (12)Why do you think this was?
_____ 13&14. Family rules are guidelines for behavior of family members that are based on family beliefs and can be explicit (spoken of and public) or implicit (not spoken of and hidden). (13) Identify some of these beliefs for the family in the movie/play. (14) How did you know what the hidden beliefs were?
_____ 15. One way in which families are able to maintain their sense of "family" is through the use of rituals, defined as "composed of metaphors, symbols, and actions that are 'packaged' in a highly condensed dramatic form to establish and maintain family identity." How did the family use rituals?
_____ 16&17. Prior generations tend to transmit their approach to life (including attitudes and values) to the next generation. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not. (16) What evidence did you see of this in the family you viewed? (17) Did you see anyone acting as a transitional character (i.e., a person who changes the course of the family in a positive way)?
_____ 18&19. (18) Describe the emotional climate of this family. (19) Are there indications of emotional legacies of past relationships that affect the relationships you see on screen?
_____ 20-22. (20) What evidence do you see of supportive communication in this family? (21) Of defensive communication? (22) How might they improve their communication skills?
_____ 23. What are the methods of resolving conflict that you see?
_____ 24. How do family member deal with loss and/or stress?
________ Subtotal (up to 30 points)
+__________ (add up to 5 pts.) Bonus points (for well written, thoughtful write-up)
-__________ (minus 5 points if an official grading sheet does not accompany the write-up)
-__________ (subtract up to 10 pts.) Penalty points for poor writing style -- (e.g., Is the report understandable to the reader? Is it clear? Are there places where you must struggle in order to attempt to understand what has been written? Does the student not use complete sentences?)
-__________ (subtract 5 points per working day, up to 30 points) Late submission penalty.
Go to Syllabus.
Questions? Contact the course instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen R. Gilbert, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Last updated January