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Own Family Therapy Essay


Background Information
Traditional norms and values have always been the overall name that is used to refer to social rituals and traditional verbal materials that have been handed down from one generation to another through words of mouth or basically as an example instead of written materials. These values and norms include among others, riddles, fables, and legends, forms of drama, traditional dances, and myths which are always performed during events in community gatherings. Throughout the world, people in all walks of life devote their time and take pains to educate their children to grow into functional adults. In most cases, the attention, the devotion of time, and suffering experienced by family members in taking their children to school are meant to transmit social and cultural knowledge that would help children fit well in the society in which they will spend the rest of their lives.

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These forms of values are utilized for social conduct and recognition in all ethnic communities across the globe, and I believe my Igbo community is not an exception. Besides, it is undeniable that people’s family of origin, which impacts their biological, psychological, and social development. Fundamentally, childhood and family experiences influence peoples’ values, beliefs, personalities, and behavioral patterns. Therefore, as a counselor, I am supposed to be keenly aware of the manner I have been influenced by my family of origin so that I can advertently play out a family role when dealing with my clients in my field of work. In this perspective, I intend to interview my parents about my family history to understand important family dynamics and relationship triangles because I believe this will help me know how family and childhood experiences have significantly impacted my attitudes, beliefs, values, personality characteristics, and behavioral patterns.

My Reaction to Interviewing my Parents
I must acknowledge that I was surprised when interviewing my parents about our family history since I learned a lot of information than I ever imagined. Before the interview, I only knew that I was raised in a Christian family. My mother worked as a civil servant in the ministry of health whereas my father was in the military. Since I started attending the boarding school at a very tender age, I never got enough time to interact with my parents to learn about family values just like other normal kids. I was shocked to learn that my mother was not my father’s first wife since he has another wife who hails from the Fulani community in another town within Nigeria. On asking more about the second wife, I was informed that just like our own, the Igbo community, the Fulani tribe is also composed of two major ethnic groups, but they have also intermingled to the extent that they are just regarded as the one community. Even though the group is mostly found in Nigeria, it is concentrated in the Northern part of the country in states such as Kano, Sokoto, and Katsina.

Secondly, I realized that my mother was married to another man before accepting to marry my father some twenty years and she had sired two kids with the first husband. Being a member of the Igbo community, the tradition dictates that children remain under the custody of the father because marriage between a man and a woman is considered a union between families and societies. In this context, divorce exists in the community, but it is rare and complicated. In this case, people who are divorced find it challenging to marry someone else, and as a result, most of them go to cities or major towns to marry people who are also from different towns. Thus, my mother explained that it was the primary reason why she came to Logos and remarried because she had dissolved her first marriage and her first kids were now considered members of other societies. Even though I tried as much as possible to believe what they were saying, I discovered that there were some gaps in the information that they were giving me. I think they were pretending to be happy, and in the real sense, they were not. Marrying a polygamous persona is something that most women find difficult to accept, but my mother had agreed to marry my father because she did not have any other option because of her history. For these reasons, I believe that my parents are very strict with their secrets and hardly talk about because it is a sensitive issue.

How my Family Dealt With Roles, Emotions, Expression, or Feelings, Ethnicity, Culture
I have always thought that parenting only means changing of diapers, chasing and controlling screaming children, or enduring messy feeding times. However, my parents’ story of how they dealt with roles, their emotions, or feelings was a real-life opener in my life because they acknowledged that living together and parenting children go beyond the requirements to meet basic survival needs of children, the general expression of love to their spouses, or normal family roles. Specifically, my parents stated that they dealt with roles, emotions, expression, or feelings by being physically present. According to my father, being near his family members was the main reason that he was able to raise children who are stress-free and engaged with their lives and roles in the school. This practice concurs with the study conducted by Holloway, Campbell, Nagase, Kim, Suzuki, Wang, and Baak (2016) which studied the connection between children’s competence and parents’ investment or presence and established that the emotional involvement of parents affects the outcome of their kid’s emotional well-being. At the same time, the physical presence of my father in the family was enough reasons why they lived a happy life with my mother. Even though my father had another family in a different town, he has always made sure that the family is well taken care of and that my mother does not feel lonely.

Next, my parents dealt with roles, emotions, expressions, or feelings by being honest and acknowledging each other’s feelings. Importantly, my father stated that he learned to recognize my mother’s negative feelings such as anger on many occasions. He knew that the problem was not with her experiencing such feelings. Instead, it lies in how such emotions can be tamed or handled. For that matter, he learned to open up and told her everything that he had another wife with a family, and he has a moral obligation to cater to their needs as a responsible parent. As a result, my parents have been living very happily and peaceful since I was young. In that context, my mother observed that they have dealt with roles, emotions, expressions, or feelings by being peaceful in their marriage. As their child, I was happy to see how my parents displayed their emotions, and I have always imitated what my parents do to regulate their emotions and feelings. Besides, Holloway et al., (2016) stated that such experiences greatly influence kids who are more prone to episodes of anger or negative emotions and this leads to more behavioral problems. Hence, being a child from a peaceful homestead, I do not believe that I can experience any adverse behavioral issues.

I was happy to know that how my parents dealt with roles, emotions, expressions, or feelings helped them assign family roles to each member. My father termed himself as the family hero and being a soldier in Nigeria’s army, and he said that he has done anything possible and could do anything for his family. Being a hero, he claimed that he has been able to educate all his children to the university level, even though he never made it past high school. On the other hand, my mother claimed that she is the peacemaker and making sure that love thrives within the family. After many years of marriage, my mother acknowledged that she had been responsible for the peace in the family by finding ways to compensate her children for the anger they experience when returning home only to realize their father has been away for more than six months. Thus, at present, I intend to be the parental child in the family. Being the eldest child in the family of four children, I expect to take on other roles like educating my younger ones because all my parents are aging and almost reaching the retirement age. I believe, by the time I am through with my education all my parents would have retired and will not be in a position to educate my younger siblings. In that case, I will assume the role of a parent-child and help my parents take my younger ones through school.

How Each Family Member Expressed Affection
My parents laughed when I asked them how they expressed affection to each other and their children. My father took the lead and stated that he showed love to his loved ones through gifts and taking his children to the best schools in the country. I agreed with my father on this point because my father has always been there for his children, no matter the circumstances and even took us to the best schools. Like in Nigeria, getting a chance to study in the USA is every child’s dream, and my father gave me this chance with open arms. Even though my father lived a busy life, he understood that one of the essential things to do was to stop and give his children a loving squeeze and this has resulted in life-long positive results for me because it has improved my self-esteem and academic performance. Latham, Mark, and Oliver (2018) prove this allegation by noting that better parent-child communication, improved educational achievement, and higher self-esteem have been related to the affection of parents to their children. At the same time, he proved in research that kids who have attentive parents and very affectionate children grow up to be less anxious, happier, and more resilient adults. Li and Liu (2019) concurred with this study and established that affection and unconditional love could make kids less anxious emotionally happier. In this context, I have strong reasons to believe that it is the love and affection from my parents that have made me more successful in my academics to the point that I got admitted to a university in the United States of America.

How my Family Members Looked For Help and Support in the Family
Being government employees, my parents mainly looked for help from the government. The government has established an educational program for all the civil servants in the country in such a way that it can lend out interest-free loans to its employees. Since both my parents are government employees, it means that they would get enough money in forms of loans which they used to take us to good schools in Nigeria and also sponsor us to pursue higher education in a foreign country. However, my father acknowledged that on some occasions he usually ask help from his cousin who works with the electricity generating company in Nigeria. Specifically, he admitted borrowing money from him to help pay my first school expenses immediately I secured admission at this university. I must say that I do not know this cousin to my father but, when I need help, I usually turn my eyes to my parents because I am still under their care. However, on some occasions, I typically seek advice from my maternal uncle in case my parents are not in a position to help me out.

How People were Educated, Guided, and Disciplined in my Family
To understand how people in my community were educated, guided, and disciplined I asked my parents about the history of education in our culture or the indigenous education system. In this perspective, my parents agreed that the purpose of education in the traditional Igbo society was to teach children about moral values, culture, farming methods, hunting skills, and roles of each person in the community. In this context, it is clear that functionalism was the primary guiding principle since education was mainly regarded as the way to the end and not the end in itself. Mostly, my parents stated that school was generally used as a way to introduce children into society and a tool to prepare them for adulthood. In particular, the educational system in Igbo society accentuated social responsibility, political participation, and job orientation. In most cases, children learned by participating in ceremonies, demonstration, rituals, imitations, and recitation. Disciplinary measures in the society included, punishment for wrong actions, burnishing from the community, or imprisonment to work on manual jobs as monitored by the elders in the society. However, in today’s society, I usually attempt to influence others by rallying them towards constructive activities like tree planting.

Patterns and Characteristics of my Family that Reflect its Ethnic and Cultural Affiliation
There is no doubt that my family exhibits several patterns that prove the fact that it is still affiliated with the ethic and traditional culture. First, my father is considered the head of the family as it was in the traditional Igbo society. In his capacity as the family head, he makes the final decision on important issues and always expects to be served by my mother while he is seated. Second, my mum usually expects my father to provide food and take care of other responsibilities even though she also works and earns money just like my father. At the same time, my family respects traditional beliefs and also takes the initiative to engage in conventional functions like circumcision. Just like my parents, I also expect them to take care of my needs, just as it was in traditional African society.

Factors that I Have Learned from my Family Experience
In my family experience, I have learned that love and affection are two essential qualities of bringing up happy kids. I realized that love bestows higher self-esteem in children and this makes them improve their academic performance, thereby transforming children into responsible members of the society. Second, I learned that honesty is the pillar of relationships especially marriage because it leads to the creation of trust between partners. Third, I noticed that a peaceful union raises happy and contented children who are even willing to take on early responsibilities to take care of their parents.

Additionally, I noticed that even though some African families have adopted modern lifestyles, their actions still shows that they are affiliated with the traditional African norms and beliefs. In this perspective, I wish to learn how to be honest as my father was to my mother and told her that he had another family in another town in the country. Therefore, my perception of an ideal family is one in which both parents love each other, they are honest, and shows the highest levels of affections to their children, which makes my family an ideal one.

How my Childhood Experience is Likely to affect my Performance as a Counselor
I must agree that my family experience is likely to have a significant impact on my performance as a counselor, mainly when working with families. Specifically, I believe these experiences will make me a better counselor as I will have the upper hand when dealing with people in similar situations because I will have firsthand information on strategies to deal with a polygamous partner and how to raise happy kids regardless of the past. However, I believe issues that will create unique challenges in working them as a counselor is when families with same-sex couples emerge because I do not have any experience on how to handle such problems.

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Holloway, S. D., Campbell, E. J., Nagase, A., Kim, S., Suzuki, S., Wang, Q., … & Baak, S. Y. (2016). Parenting self-efficacy and parental involvement: Mediators or moderators between socioeconomic status and children’s academic competence in Japan and Korea?. Research in Human Development, 13(3), 258-272.
Latham, R. M., Mark, K. M., & Oliver, B. R. (2018). Co-parenting and children’s disruptive behavior: Interacting processes for parenting sense of competence. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(1), 151.
Li, X., & Liu, Y. (2019). Parent-grandparent co-parenting relationship, maternal parenting self-efficacy, and young children’s social competence in Chinese urban families. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-9.

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