Free «Family Communication: "Parenthood"» Essay Paper
Parenthood (1989) is a good illustration of a family interaction and how parenting styles may affect family members. There are four generations of the Buckman family and despite their differences, they try to tolerate each other and function well. Parenthood argues that the family should not necessarily be perfect in order to offer love and support to its members. In the example of Buckman extended family, the audience can see a shift from a traditional family model to a ‘postmodern’ family. The paper discusses the concepts of the family, different patterns of family communication, and behavior of its members.
In line with a standard and outdated model of the 1950s family, the Buckmans are white and middle class where the husband is a breadwinner and the wife is a homemaker (Turner & West, 2012, p. 10). This concept is true for Frank and Maryline as well as for Gil and Karen. However, the stable definition is changing during the film and the Buckmans move closer to a ‘postmodern’ family because Karen intends to work. Susan contributes to the couple’s income on par with Nathan while Helen from being a single mom acquires an extended model of the family welcoming Todd as her daughter’s husband and marrying for the second time.
The film presents several definitions of family. According to Turner and West’s Perspectives on family communication (2012), the family is “a self-defined group of intimates” that “may include both voluntary and involuntary relationships” (p. 9). For example, Gil and Karen put much effort into maintaining their family connections. They spend much time with their children and are included into their social life. They are clearly a family with warm and close relationships. In contrast, Larry also constitutes family with his son Cool, but he does not spend much time with him and eventually leaves him in his parents’ care to pursue his career choices elsewhere. Another example of involuntary familial ties is the interaction between Helen and Garry. As a teen Garry experiences a difficult period in his life and cannot confide in his mother so he constantly leaves the house in the morning at a high speed not wanting to talk to her.
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As family defines itself through communication among others, it means that family communication is not different from interpersonal communication. Family communication is based on the interpersonal communication and relationships between different members who are instrumental for the atmosphere in the family. From the example of Helen and Garry, it can be seen how interpersonal communication affects family communication. When Garry refuses to speak to his mother, he feels miserable because of the changes in his teenage body he could not discuss. However, when Helen solves his problem by advising him to talk to Todd, Garry becomes much happier and is able to communicate with Helen again.
A lack of communication is always a matter of concern because it is detrimental to a relationship. When Susan and Nathan could not discuss the issues, it results in Susan’s leaving. Nathan’s inability to hear and recognize her needs hurts his relationships with Susan. Having previously agreed to have children in 5 years, Nathan refuses to talk about Susan’s desire to have a child earlier and acknowledge her needs.
Another matter of concern is Gil’s obsessive anxiety over his eldest son. It makes Kevin uncomfortable. Kevin becomes as anxious as his father. While it may run in the family as a hereditary predisposition, Gil’s attitude only aggravates the situation. Gil envisions himself responsible for any kind of life scenario. That type of a compulsive thinking creates troubles for the family. First of all, it puts pressure on Kevin. Second, it takes parental attention from the other two children.
Family communication is an integral part of healthy relationships. Parenthood gives a realistic example of an extended family where people despite their love and support for each other have difficulties and anxieties. From the example of the families in the movie, the viewer can see different patterns of interaction within the family and how some issues and concerns can be solved with communications.