Looking around today, it is easy to see and point out the many different family types in the world and at Leesville. A student’s family can have many different effects on all aspects of their lives, from school to social life. The Mycenaean explored the many different family types that exist today and how that family structure might affect each student.
A “normal family” is commonly defined as a nuclear family– a married couple and children who are dependent on a happy husband and wife. Studies show that the most typical example of a nuclear family (mom, dad, and children) produces children that are provided a better education, superior social skills, more privileges. These same children are more likely to grow up and create a nuclear family of their own. However, no one nuclear family is like another. Although married, put-together parents are known for raising their children with more advantages, nuclear families still struggle. Kids of a nuclear family can face many different challenges that are not always associated with two parents as their primary caregivers.
Families that have divorced parents are very hard to define because divorced families do not follow any typical social definition. There are also many stereotypes of divorced families, saying that children of divorced families are more prone to dropping out of school, committing crime, not attending secondary school and having marriages that end in divorce also. However, families that go through divorce do not always fit these stereotypes. There are many families who have better lives because of divorce, and there are children that say being a part of a divorced family actually helped them in maturing.
While there is clearly no “typical” family, one family we have yet to discuss is when there is a significant age difference between siblings. One reason for this age difference consists of a family that has had many kids over the span of many years. But another, possibly more common reason, is when two people have a divorce, and then remarry. When this remarrying results in an age difference, it’s often because the two people have had children in their previous relationship, and then choose to have children in their current relationship.
Same Sex Parents
In today’s society, we have a plethora of different family types. One family type that is unique to the modern day is a family with two parents of the same gender. These parents often function exactly like that of a “nuclear” family, aside from the gender of the two parents. These families can have married parents, but sometimes do not. Another difference is that the kids in these families are most likely adopted. For a long time there was a high level of discrimination against gay people and gay families. While some of these homophobic sentiments are still around today, studies have shown that children raised in families with same sex parents are not at a disadvantage, and the amount of discrimination towards these families is diminishing.
Families have different reasons for adopting children. Whatever the reason may be, adoption is a process that takes a long time but ultimately ends up in a beautiful addition to the family. Children in families here in the Leesville community are adopted from places all around the world. The biggest problem that adopted children face is the sense of separation from their adoptive family. This can be because of a variety of reasons, such as skin color, age, ethnicity, beliefs and nationality. However, many families who have adopted children are able to create a “normal” family and make the adopted child feel as if they were not adopted.
There is no way to define a family in which a parent has died. Whether it is a mother, father, step mother, step father, or another guardian, the death of a parent is a different experience for everyone. Sometimes the death of a parent results in a single parent household, or sometimes the other parent will choose to remarry. There is no “norm” when it comes to a death in the family, and the effects this death has on children varies widely. Students may grieve for a long period of time, a short period of time, or go through the various stages of grief. The death might affect their school attendance, grades and relationships. But no matter the effect on the on the person, the event of a death in the family is tragic, and there is no way to dictate the full scope of how a person will react.
Q & A with Dr. Huber
Q: How does each student’s family affect their life?
A: I think the key is two things…one, it’s not really who your family is, [it’s] can you get support from your family, no matter how your family looks, no matter the makeup of your family. Two, if you’re going through tough times because maybe you are going through a transition where you were living with one part of your family, but now you’re living with another part of the family, then are there things in place to help you through that transition too? So yeah…the bottom line is support: no matter what your family looks like and if there are things that you’re dealing with, then how are you getting that support?
Q: How do you handle a student with a difficult situation?
A: It’s very individualized because it depends on what the student is going through. So it might be they’re going through a difficult situation that has to do with their family and their family just needs the resources, and so it’s helping hook up the family with resources in the community. It might be living tech resources — they might need help with housing, or they might need some help with food or basic needs. Or it might be that the family needs some help from a counseling perspective: they might need to get some support that way. Occasionally, we also have students that…the difficulties they’re having [are] because of the arguments or maybe lack of support… that they’re facing for a variety of reasons. So it’s trying to ensure that those students have those outlets, so they might come down here to get support, and someone to speak to. If there are needs that they have, then trying to figure out what we can do to help them with that. So yeah, everything is very individualized because it just depends on what everyone’s going through.
Q: Is there a procedure for each situation?
A: It is very individualized, but I think it’s first determining what the immediate need is. Sometimes there’s a lot of things going on, so it’s like what is the thing going on right now that is the most immediate. It could be a safety issue where “I need a place to stay” or where “I can’t go home tonight” or it could be “we don’t have something in the house that’s affecting our basic needs”. So it’s trying to prioritize what those needs are first, what do we need to take care of ASAP and what is ongoing. It’s kind of like a triage…just figuring out what those needs are and trying to attack them one at a time.
Q: Do you think that you can stereotype certain family types?
A: It is hard to categorize because people do experience things so differently. Sometimes when it comes to divorced families, there have been things leading up to that that sometimes it might help in a situation where there’s an explanation for “this is going to happen to my family.” Sometimes we have families here where the move to Leesville was precipitated by a change in their family, by a divorce, by a death in the family, and that’s why they’re here, so not only are they new, they might even be new to the state, so they’re dealing with that change, they are also dealing with the change in their family and that’s huge… I think it is individual because we all experience loss and change differently, but I think there are some similarities in regards to ‘my life has changed’ — we might be expressing those losses differently, but that change is probably the same thing that runs through.