116 Helping Family Members with Maladaptive Communication Procreation is no longer considered an essential family function. However, when there are children, socialization remains an important function, even though some of this responsibility has been taken over by social institutions like schools and day care. 3. Family Forms and Associated Stressors While the nuclear family has been seen as the ideal, it faces pressures associ- ated with two working parents, long commutes, risk of unemployment, and indebtedness. Single-parent families often experience stress as a result of role overload, negative stereotypes, and gender-based expectations. Single-parent families headed by women also are at greater risk of being poor. Blended families or stepfamilies often struggle with the stress associated with merging two different families with two different set of norms and creating new social and normative structures. Negative stereotypes are likely to create stress for families without children and those that include members of the LGBTQ community. Extended families may provide members with multiple sources of support, but they also may experience stress associated with overcrowding and lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities. 4. Family Structure Salvador Minuchin examined family structure and how this influences a fami- ly’s ability to perform its various functions. There are three units of analysis: the family as a whole and how it relates to the wider social environment, individual members of the family and how each relates to every other member in the family system, and how different subsystems in the family—defined by their function—relate to other systems in the family and meet their responsibilities. Boundaries define these relationships and may be permeable, rigid, diffuse, or somewhere in between. The more boundaries deviate from permeable— which allows both individuation and connectedness among members, between the family as a whole and the wider environment, and between subsystems— the more at risk they are of experiencing stress. Five subsystems are important for family functioning. The family as a whole is the most basic system and meets the basic functions previously outlined. The partner system meets the needs for affiliation and intimacy of adults in a family, performing an expressive function. The executive system often includes the same members, but its function is quite different: this subsystem is task oriented and responsible for the instrumental functions within a family. In families with children, two other systems come into play. The members of the
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