Types of Families – Part 3
Using the placement of the scores on the two scales–the Cohesion scale and the Adaptability scale–we can identify five basic family types. The more extreme the placement on the scales, the more problematic that particular style will be.
The first type is the rigidly enmeshed family. This is a family characterized by a lot of closeness, but also a lot of control by the leader. People in this type of family can struggle with feelings of being smothered and/or controlled. People are so enmeshed they can probably finished each other’s sentences. Everything is in its place, and everything has a place. It’s very difficult to break away from this type of family and find a sense of individuality. That behavior is often interpreted negatively as disloyalty.
The second type is the rigidly disengaged family. Similar issues as the first type but without the emotional connection. This type of family often fit into the militant type family, where growing up was like going through boot camp. The rules are clear, but nobody feels connected within the family. It’s much easier to break away and grow up in this family, for connection will eventually be found outside the family.
The third type is the chaotically enmeshed family. There is emotional connection between family members, but there is no order or even organization in the family. Each of the family members raise themselves; the children raise each other; and what’s going to happen tomorrow is anybody’s guess.
The fourth type is the chaotically disengaged family. Here family is defined by their address. There’s no structure and little connection within the family. The “home” is just a place to eat and sleep. The individual members of this family are disconnected from one another, and the style of family could also be called “Isolated Islands” of people. This is a very unhealthy family style that has the most negative impact on its members. There may be special times when the family does something together, but they are rare.
The fifth type is the balanced family. Here the scores on both scales are in the mid range. Families like these have high levels of healthy functioning and low levels of problematic functioning. They are also able to best handle the stress of daily living and the relational strains of changes in the family over time. Communication with each other is of utmost importance to every family member.
Next we will look at another description of family types.
Question: As you look at thee family styles, think in terms of the family in which you grew up, not your own current family. Where would your family best fit?