The Angelino family has five children and a sixth is on the way. The children are ages 14 (girl), 12 (boy), 10 (girl), 7 (boy), and 6 (girl). They all attend a nearby parochial school. Mr. Angelino owns a butcher shop that had been his father’s and that was begun by his grandfather, who emigrated from Italy in 1904. The butcher shop at one time had upstairs living quarters for the family, but about 10 years ago the family moved into a large, Victorian-style house about a block away.
Mr. Angelino’s youngest brother once came back from college with ideas about expanding the business and marketing the family’s secret recipe for Italian sausage, but Mr. Angelino (the oldest son) decided against it because it would take too much time away from the family. He is fond of saying, “We ain’t rich, but we got a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and each other. What more could we want?” This youngest brother is the only one in the family with a college education, and he is also the only one who scandalized the family by marrying a non-Catholic. Mr. Angelino uses his little brother as an example of the detrimental effects of “too much education.”
Both Mr. and Mrs. Angelino come from large families; most of their brothers and sisters still live in the “Little Italy” section of this large eastern city. All grandparents are dead, with the exception of Mrs. Angelino’s mother (Mama). Mama lives in the home with them and is very frail. One of Mrs. Angelino’s brothers or sisters is sure to stop by nearly every day, bringing children, flowers, or food, for a visit with Mama. They often take Mama for rides or to their homes for short visits, depending on her health, and help with her basic care.
Life with the Angelinos can be described as a kind of happy chaos. Kids are always running in and out of the butcher shop, where the older brothers and male cousins are often assigned small tasks in return for a piece of salami or some other treat. The old house is always full of children—siblings and cousins—from teenagers to toddlers. Children are pretty much indulged until they reach age 9 or 10, at which time they are expected to begin taking responsibility, which is divided strictly along traditional gender-role lines. Child care, cooking, and cleaning are accomplished by the women—older sisters or cousins, aunts, or mothers. Evening meals are a social event.
There is nearly always at least one extended family member or friend at the table, and everyone talks about the events of the day, sometimes all at once, except when Mr. Angelino has something to say, at which point everyone stops to listen. Mr. Angelino is obviously a very affectionate father, but he expects his word to be obeyed. Bedtimes, rules about talking at the table, curfews, and other rules are strictly enforced. This situation is beginning to cause conflict with the oldest daughter, who wants to date and spend more time with her friends from school. Mrs. Angelino is often sympathetic to her children’s requests, but her husband has the final say.
All in all, life in the Angelino home is warm, close, and harmonious. Mrs. Angelino, as she approaches her eighth month of pregnancy with this last “surprise” child, shares her contentment with her priest: “I don’t know what I have done to deserve so many blessings from the Good Lord.”
The McNeil Family
Mr. and Mrs. McNeil have been married for 2 years, and she is expecting their first child. Mr. McNeil is the youngest partner in a prestigious law firm in a midwestern city. Everyone considers him upwardly mobile and thinks that it is phenomenal that he achieved a partnership only 3 years out of law school. Mrs. McNeil has a degree in interior design. She worked full time for a while for a decorating firm in another city. After she married, Mrs. McNeil moved to this city, where she has a part-time, on-call job with an exclusive architectural firm. She has ambitions of starting her own business.
Mr. McNeil is an only child. His parents live on the East Coast. They are both successful in business—his father is a banker and his mother is a real estate broker. They have always demanded perfection from their son, and he seems to have lived up to their expectations. Mrs. McNeil has one younger sister. Her parents live on the West Coast. They are both professionals; her father is a college professor and her mother is a social worker. Mrs. McNeil’s family has always been very close. She calls her parents about once a week, and the family occasionally has conference calls with the parents and the two siblings to decide some important issue or to relay some big news. Mrs. McNeil’s parents place no demands on her except that she be true to herself. They often tell her how proud they are of her accomplishments.
Both sets of parents are experiencing grandparenthood for the first time with Mrs. McNeil’s pregnancy.
They are thrilled. It sometimes seems to the McNeils that their parents vie with each other over the gifts that they give them. The McNeils refuse the more extravagant gifts to make the point that they are indeed making it on their own, and they have discussed some strategies for disengaging themselves from so much contact with their parents.
The McNeils’ avant-garde apartment is the scene of much entertaining with his law firm colleagues and her artistic friends and decorating clients. Although their social spheres overlap somewhat, each has separate groups of friends and pursues individual interests. They call this “giving each other space,” and they consider it to be an important strength in their marriage. The McNeils believe strongly in supporting each other’s careers and in sharing family responsibilities; they divide cooking and cleaning in a flexible manner, according to whoever has the time. They are also attending Lamaze classes together and are looking forward to sharing childbirth.
The babies who Mrs. Angelino and Mrs. McNeil are expecting will have severe cognitive and physical disabilities.
1.Use the family systems framework to predict the preferences, strengths, and needs of both families in terms of characteristics, interaction, function, and life cycle. (5 points per family).
2.The Angelinos and the McNeils have different cultural values. How would you characterize the cultural values of each family? How do you think these cultural values influence what they consider to be appropriate self-determination for each of the parents (mother and father), as well as for their children with and without a disability? (Assume that the McNeils will have more children, who do not have a disability.) (5 points per family)
3. Given their views on appropriate levels of self-determination, identify two ways that you might work with each family in addressing self-determination within a culturally responsive framework. (2 points for each way to work with each family; total of 8 points).