The value of genogram depends on the social role of genealogy. Genealogy is a historical record of a family, and it contains a very rich content. Through genealogy, people can compare the true understanding of the historical outlook, a spirit of the times. For society, understanding the people’s thoughts and behaviors at the historical background can benefit in Ethnology, demography research. For me, making a genogram about my family is a great way for me to analysis the relationship in my internal family. And genogram helps me to understand distinctly the process of how gender role, power dynamics, divorce and family value impact my self-identify even my future life.
The gender roles is an important secession I studied in this course. And gender roles also have an impact on my family; however, the gender roles are changing by the time. Strong, DeVault and Cohen said, “gender role is a role that a person is expected to perform as a result of being male or female in a particular culture” (Strong, DeVault & Cohen, 2011, P. 133). From the definition, I think the culture is the cause of the formation of gender role. And the expectations are the way gender role performance.
Before comprehensively talk about where it come from, why gender role takes shape and how it shift through time, I want to enumerate the various expectations in three generations for my family. In the first generation, women are expected to be frugal, good at needlework. The culture expects that women have gentles and compliant characteristic. For my mother, the expectation all most stay in same. The main expectation on my mother is women should contribute and support the family members. And then, the gender role expectations of me are totally different with the idea to be compliant, my mother expects me to be an independent woman and fight for my own happiness.
Firstly, people learn gender roles from three aspects which are culture influence, modeling others and channeling. My grandmother was born above the late 1937’s when the Anti-Japanese War became serious, so grandmother had no opportunity to get the education. The low education lever causes the expectations of gender role are based on the profound influence on Confucian culture which believe women should be good at needlework. Grandmother can cut adult clothes into children’s clothes. When the children grow up, she had wracked her mind to gave the old clothes stitching on the fabric. For this reason, the cloth could be worn for three or four years. Due to the change of economic, different with my grandmother, my mother did not need to skilled at needlework. She was expected to be responsible for support family members. The major way that my mother learns about gender role is modeling. Since one-year-old, mom imitated grandmother to wipe the table before grandmother tough her to do the housework. Furthermore, she was modeling the school teacher to check my uncle’s homework. Sharing mother’s mission and helping younger brother are the behaviors women should have at that time. As time goes by, when I was born, my family was rich enough to prove me a better life. I studied gender role from channeling and biologically based. When I was three years old, mother gave me many cards which have Chinese character. After few weeks, mother began to teach me to read those characters. If I can read more characters per day, mother gave my candy as rewards. In the biologically based, I am a girl who has soft emotion since the infancy age. Later, I never have a conflict with other children. I usually sit on the floor and read a children’s book.
Second, the gender role had been changed in across generations because of the shift of economy. In the time of my grandmother, the war causes a low postwar economy and unstable states it was hard to buy clothes in the market. So grandmother was forced to make cloth by herself. Time goes by when my mother became older; clothes were common goods on the market. So mother does not need to skill on needlework, she had the more extended responsibility to support the family. And for me, my parents provide good economic background, so they do not judge my behavior as a lady.
In my genogram, I show the conflictual relationship between family members and the main cause of those conflict just related to the power dynamics. I studied the definition of power dynamics in class. According to Strong, DeVault and Cohen, “power is the ability or potential ability to influence another person or group, to get people to do what you want them to do, whether they want to do or not” (Strong, DeVault & Cohen, 2011, P. 237). Based on the definition, I know that power have both negative and positive influences. Generally, female holds more power than men in my family, such as coercive power and referent power. My grandmother is an aggressive woman who likes to use coercive power to control people because she believes she capable. Coercive power performs as using physical violence and threaten to make people fear which can limit the behavior. For example, when my mother was a teenager, she saved money from eating to buy the snack. But one day, grandmother discovered my mother’s action, she became angry. She not only throw the snack away but also brought my mother back to home. Grandmother even threatened her to swear never buy snack again; otherwise she would cut down the pocket money. Although my mother was forced to do what grandmother wants, using coercive power really hurts mother’s feeling and the intimacy between them which are the negative influence.
For me, I am very lucky that my mother usually uses referent power to control my behaviors because I believe she is perfect, and I also want to be perfect. Since I was young, my mother found that it is hard for me to keep the room clean. She did not blame on me; she just let me enter her room and asked me that I prefer her room or me. I said her room is better than mine. She asked me to pay attention to observing how she keep the room clean. After that time, I realized that mom is very organized whatever in housework or her job. For this reason, I began to model her behavior, and I tried to become an organized woman as her.
As same as I respected my mom, my father also gives her highly trust and absolute power in making the family decision. Mother makes all the decision in the family, whatever which kinds of furniture to choose or where the money spends. It sounds like mother and father have an unequal power in the relationship. However, my father gains benefits, too. My father really does not care about how the family operates. So he is happy that mother make all those kind of decisions that help he to focus on his job. But my father does not like mother make decisions about his company. Have to say, sometimes the decisions father makes to his company are not perfect. For this reason, mother thinks she has the responsibility to correct father’s wrong decision. Unfortunately, my mother uses an emotional tone in the arguments. She usually begins the conversation in those words, “do not you know that your are totally wrong in this decision.” that send a negative message. Although my father knows that mother was right, he does not like his wife is better than him even in business. In this situation, the unequal power affects father’s self-esteem. I think because of the excessive interference, father is not satisfied with mother’s power in his business. A few years ago, my father started to hide working decisions which cause the decreasing of income. Because of decreasing of income, those years father had had to ask mother’s opinions. However, I can feel that even if my father asks my mother, he still with a very depress mood because of his low voice and slow speaking rate. Although my father is a little bit depressed, the power structure is hard to change in my family. Fortunately, my mother begins to change her verbal and nonverbal communication which help father to feel better in those years.
Other Negative Pattern: Divorce Pattern
As a whole, I have a good family. However, my uncle’s two marriage brings a huge negative impact on my life. The way my uncle choose his partners has many mistakes in homogamy.
In my uncle’s first marriage, he chooses a woman who is not in his social class especially on their education level. Education, in my mind, does not only mean school education but also how the value and believes changing through time. In the beginning, my uncle and my aunt have same school education level because they both just graduated from high school. However, my uncle met many friends who graduated from good university. Being friends with those people cause my uncle develop fast and became wisdom. For this reason, the difference between him and my aunt became bigger and bigger because my aunt does not want to try to match his value. The implication is that they even did not speak with each other anymore.
The failure of first marriage cause my uncle has extramarital sex with a young women who was 20 years old at that year. I think the reason that my uncle choose this women because of physical stimulus. At the same time, my uncle loves to waste money to show his successful. So he has same value and interests with this woman. Also, because the only thing the women wants is money, so she can play every role that my uncle wants. Because their stimulus, values and roles are matching, they have a very long and stable relationship, and even raise two children together.
The reason for extramarital sex exist is that the normal in China is abnormal because the fast growth of economic. It became an acceptable action that young women who betrayed her youth and body in order to economic benefits. My uncle’s behavior torture my heart and makes me could not trust marriage even man anymore. I hate my culture and cause me do not want to come bake to China.
Replication of Characteristics: Value
The last point I want to make is the divide of value. When my mother and my uncle were young, they had very similar value. They both believed that people need to be sympathetic, unpretentious and steadfast. However, with the fanatical stander for my family, uncle becomes a person who believes in venality. So the way my mother and my uncle raise children have a big difference. My mother teaches me the right use of money. She said that money is a tool for me to achieve my ideal, and I need always to remember what kinds of person I want to be. Because of my mother, I am different with other Chinese students. I do not waste money, and I also do not use the money to show my value. My uncle’s daughter accepts hedonism. She does not have a dream, and she also does not have a goal for her life. I do not have the right to criticize people’s value, but I feel pity that the intimacy between my mother and uncle was damaged because of different values.
In conclusion, genogram helps my to analyze to the relation in my family from gender role, power dynamics, divorce pattern and value which impact the life of my family member. In this four parts, there are both positive and negative influences. Although some conflicts are hard to avoid and change, through this course, I studied some resolve to reduce the damage. And in my future life, I wish I could avoid the negative influence and build a better family.
Strong, B., DeVault, C & Cohen, T. F. (2011). The marriage and family experience: intimate relationships in a changing society (11th ed.). Location: Linda Schreiber-Ganster.