Family dynamics are patterns of relating or interacting among the members. Every family
system and its momentum is unique with some common patterns. Every family has helpful and
unhelpful dynamics. Dynamics play a crucial role in influencing the lives of young people. The
models of the family are essential in helping young people find their identity, behaviors, and
wellbeing. The understanding of the influence of family dynamics on young people's perception
helps social workers to pinpoint the current needs of a young person.
The family dynamics include alignments, hierarchies, roles, and patterns of interaction among family members. This
paper will assess the family in the movie "A Child Like Jake" to determine the family dynamics
with appropriate examples using the following guidelines (Howard, 2018).
A genogram is useful in documenting the general family history. It sheds lights on
family situation and relationships. Eco maps help identify areas of need for the family. In our
case, Alex Wheeler and her husband, Greg, are the parents in this family with a boy child called
Jake. Jake has a grandmother who refers to him as his favorite grandson. This primary family
relates to affection and love. Jake, as a child, is surrounded by so much love from the parents and
the grandchild. The genogram cannot trace back for several generations because the movie
captures three generations only (Souza, Bellato, Araújo, & Almeida, 2016).
The diagrams from Hartman (1978/1995) illustrates a simple form of a genogram. Alex,
the mother in the family, wants to embrace the life of her child who is gender-expansive in terms
of clothing. Alex plays a massive role in putting the family together by caring for the needs of
her family. She wants her child to experience love and comfort in the new school, despise his
SOCIAL WORK: A genogram
reaction. Greg is the father to Jake and husband to Alex. Jake worries for the future of the child
and wonders if the phase will pass where Jake will stop desiring the princess lifestyle. Greg is
protective of his son from the confusion of dressing up in a gender-specific way. More so, Greg
thinks that the family should see some therapist or counselor for the issue they are having with
Jake gender confusion. Also, the grandmother supports the family even when they are facing
problems. He gives love and affection to the grandson and his daughter. She keeps on checking
on their welfare often (Souza et al., 2016).
The Eco map as a tool for assessment, planning, and intervention can be used in this case.
It maps the relationship between the family and the living space. In this case, Greg and Alex
seem to be in a complicated situation in their relation. Jake's issues and concerns have brought
some disagreements to the parent. Jake's gender-expansive behaviors have attracted advice from
external sources such as school, friends, and extended family. The teacher in school seems to
play a huge role in learning Jakes interests. Also, Greg finds it crucial to include a counselor to
help them find a solution in this situation. The society is an external aspect that plays a massive
role in shaping the life of Greg in identifying his gender identity. In this environment, Jake's
teacher is a sound support system for Jake gender identity and tells the parent the advantage of
having such a child in society (Souza et al., 2016).
McMaster Model of Family Functioning and Family Life Cycle
The understanding of the organization, patterns, and structures of a family focuses on six
dimensions of family functioning. These dimensions include problem-solving, communication,
affective responsiveness, roles, affective involvement, and behavior control. These dimensions
have an impact on the emotional and physical health of a family. According to McMaster model,
each aspect contributes to a fuller understanding of a complex entity such as family. Some of the
areas of the model interact or complement each other. In line with the family in the movie A
Child Like Jake, we shall discuss each dimension (Walker & Crocker, 2017).
Problem-solving refers to a family' power or ability to resolve problems to a place of
effective family functioning. A family problem is an issue that threatens the functional capacity
of the family. Some families have ongoing family issues that are difficult to solve.
Productive functioning families tend to solve their problems easily compared to ineffective ones. The model
divides the family problems into two. These include instrumental and affective ones. The
instrumental goes around managing everyday life problems such as food and clothing. The
emotional issues include issues and concerns dealing with feelings or emotions (Walker &
The Greg family is faced by an Affective problem that raises emotional concerns between
the couple and their child. The family suffers from a question that is not common to most
families. The matter brings various symptoms of anger and desperation from the parents. He
experiences confusion and bullying from other children because of his gender-expansive
behaviors. Consequently, the model gives some stages to achieve practical problem-solving.
One of the steps is identifying the problem, which is Jake's gender expansive behavior.
Communication with the appropriate people about the problem is another stage toward solving
the problem. In this case, the couple should talk to each other, their child, and the teacher to
understand the issue better (Walker & Crocker, 2017).
In continuation, developing a viable alternative solution is the next stage of solving the
problem. This stage includes the plans to consider concerning the problem-solution options.
SOCIAL WORK: A genogram:
Deciding on one of the alternatives is the next phase. It ensures that the family can come up with
a solution. In our case, the answer is accepting the gender needs of the child and providing them.
The next phase is acting on the decision of the action plan to solve the problem. Monitoring the
action is another stage toward achieving a sustainable solution. Finally, evaluating the
effectiveness of the work is crucial to ensure positive results and making changes where
necessary (Walker & Crocker, 2017).
Communication is the next dimension of the McMaster Model. Its verbal exchange of
information within the family. Both oral and non-verbal communication is crucial in a family
set-up. The conversation should be clear and direct to foster a practical family. In the case of the
Greg family, communication is a challenge. Both the husband and wife seem to blame each other
on the fault of the issue. The misunderstandings are seen in most of their communication.
The communication is characterized by anger and makes the situation worse. In some point, the
couple gets into a serious disagreement that puts their relationship at risk. Contradictory
communication makes the situation worse. In this view, Greg and Alex were supposed to sit
down and communicate or use the third party in reaching a consensus. The sense of hesitating
may occur when discussing the problem but should not compromise the communication ability
(Walker & Crocker, 2017).
Roles are the next dimension of the model to effective family functioning. Characters are
repetitive patterns of behavior where family members fulfill their functions. Families need to
deal with features repeatedly to maintain a healthy and productive system. Some of the necessary
family functions include the provision of resources, nurturing and support, adult sexual
gratification, personal development, maintenance and management of the family system (Walker
& Crocker, 2017).
SOCIAL WORK: A genogram
In the movie, the provision of resources is well catered, where the parent can afford food,
shelter, money, and clothing. Nurturing and support lead to the regulation of comfort,
reassurance, and support for family members. Jake's grandmother and the friends to Greg and
Alex are instrumental in nurturing and supporting the family during the crisis.
Adult sexual gratification is crucial for partners in the family. In Greg family, both parties
seem to be having satisfactory intimacy from their partners. Personal development includes both
affective and instrumental elements that include skills in education, career, and raring children.
(Walker & Crocker, 2017).
Both Greg and Alex seem to nurture each other in achieving personal
development in their area of specialty. Maintenance and management of the family system are
compromised in the case of Greg and Alex in deciding the school to take Jake. Controlling the
child's gender-expansive behaviors is compromised by society.
In this case, a consensus is
achieved by involving a third party. Role allocation and accountability seems to be completed by
the parents in ensuring Jake receives support and provision as a child.
Affective responsiveness is the other dimension.
This aspect examines the emotional
responses of family members by analyzing its experience in effective stimuli. More so, welfare
emotions and emergency emotions are the two spectrums of emotional reactions. Welfare
emotions consist of affection, warmth, support, love, happiness, and joy. Emergency emotions
include anger, sadness, depression, and disappointment. Some considerations are observed
during this assessment how the family members are showing the feelings and the cultural factor
that may influence the responses. Moreover, a well-functioning family should be in a position to
express a full range of emotions (Epstein, Ryan, Bishop, Miller & Keitner, 2003).
SOCIAL WORK:A genogram
Greg and Alex seem to have effective responsiveness in their relationship. The couple
seems to enjoy happiness, affection, and joy in good times. In a time of distress. They
transparently portray anger and stress. The child Jake is another character in the movie that
shows a different range of emotions of happiness, sadness, and passion.
Affective involvement is a dimension that helps to analyze how a family shows interests
in particular activities of individual family members.
The focus on the degree of interest in each
other and the expression of the benefit is crucial. The range of involvement includes lack of
involvement ar one end to an extreme amount of participation at the other end. The model that
provides for lack of engagement, involvement devoid of feelings, narcissistic involvement,
emphatic involvement, over-involvement, and symbiotic involvement, identifies six types of
involvement (Epstein, Ryan, Bishop, Miller & Keitner, 2003).
The Greg family demonstrates over-involvement in the life of their child Jake. Greg and
Alex want to protect their child in an over-involvement approach. The parent analyzes every
aspect of the child with the intention of helping him. Also, Alex and Greg are involved in each
other's lives that makes them close and affectionate. More so, the grandmother to Jake is
empathically involved in Greg family by seeking time to spend with him and checking on him
often (Walker & Crocker, 2017).
The behavior control dimension is crucial in defining the pattern the family adopts for
handling behavior in three defined areas. These areas include dangerous physical situations,
meeting and expressing psychobiological needs circumstances, and socializing behaviors
between family members (Epstein, Ryan, Bishop, Miller & Keitner, 2003). The real hazardous
situations control actions such as playing with matches and dangerously running into the road.
SOCIAL WORK:A genogram
The psychobiological needs help to manage behaviors such as sleeping, eating, sex, and
aggression. Socialization behavior helps the members to interact with people effectively both
within and outside the family circle (Walker & Crocker, 2017). Greg and Alex are flexible
people who treat Jake with love and compassion in all areas. The parents are concerned about
how Jake deals with other children in school.
Alex wants to believe that Jake knows how to
speak out his concerns instead of fighting with other children. Also, the parent is concerned with
how Jake will be related to children when he gets to pre-school. The aspect of having a gender
identity issue brings a concern to the parent. They want their child to feel safe and comfort when
interacting with people outside the family circle, especially in school.
Family life cycle
A transition is seen in the family status. The parent realizes the need to accept their child
gender identity and supports it as a means to solve the problem (Walker & Crocker, 2017). The
child seems to thrive in the new status of transgender identity. Society appears to change in
accepting gender-expansive behaviors of a child from childhood. The teacher seems to take Jake
and finds his unique traits as favorable when looking for a school.
Also, turning points are seen
in how the two parents view Jake in his new identity. They seem to love him when dressing as a
girl. The parent dresses Jake in a girl's clothes. This action is a significant change in how they
view life. Also, people in society seem to change their view about transgender issues. The
community is accepting and allowing children to find their identity as young as Jake.
SOCIAL WORK:A genogram
Functionalism is one of the theories of family. Functionalists show that families are an
essential social institution that plays a crucial role in stabilizing society. The family and its
members perform a specific function that promotes prosperity and development of the nation.
The Greg family is an essential part of the community. Its features are reflected in society. Also,
the role of each character in the family shows the cultural shaping of the division of labor in the
The functionalism explains how parents train their children about life skills. This aspect
is seen in Greg and Alex as they prepare Jake on the point of life. Parents teach their children
gender roles as an essential aspect of a family. Consequently, the interests of the child that are
shaped by readings and DVDs guided Jake into desiring clothes from the opposite sex. The
mother seems to have contributed to the gender-expansive behavior of the child (Turner, 2017).