The purpose of this paper is to describe and conceptualize the problem of the Williams family. The two parents are Antonio, a Cuban American, and Terri, who has Italian and German roots. They have three young children living with them: Jose aged 4, Jerrodd aged 3, and a four months old named DJ. The two older kids are in the preoperational stage of development, while DJ is in the sensorimotor stage. Their fourth child, Tomas, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome two months ago. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have been struggling to take proper care of their children after the tragedy and were referred to this agency to see if the situation could be improved.
Problem Description and Conceptualization
The problem of the Williams family is that the parents are unable to devote enough attention to their children, which leads to them being left unsupervised and potentially in danger. The Williams also show unacceptable behavior such as domestic violence, and it has already started to affect their children. In addition, one of the children’s preschool attendance and performance has deteriorated rapidly.
The model used to conceptualize the problem is the Ecological Systems Theory by Andrea Ettekal and Joseph L. Mahoney. This Ecological Systems Theory is a recent work by two experienced authors, published in a reputable source. It divides the child’s environment into groups that influence their development by interacting with him or each other. The division is meant to assist in understanding the root causes of issues and seeing their effects more clearly.
This particular model has been chosen because it “explains how human development is influenced by different types of environmental systems,” which suits the Williams family case well (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017, p. 239). The model is constituted of four systems: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the macrosystem. The microsystem is the system where individuals interact directly, while also contributing to the system’s formation (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017). The mesosystem envelopes the interactions between the different microsystems of the same individual (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017).
The exosystem is more distant; it includes microsystems not directly involved with the person, but still related to them (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017). Finally, the macrosystem is “the set of overarching beliefs, values, and norms, as reflected in the cultural, religious, and socioeconomic organization of society” that usually affects most people in the area (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017, p. 241). All of these components are used in this paper to analyze the way the problem manifests in the Williams family.
On the microsystem level, there is an alarming number of issues in the Williams family. Terri’s addiction to alcohol and Antonio’s history of adultery seem to be the basis of most conflicts, and the latter also causes a lack of trust between the spouses.
Alcoholism has been a more prominent problem lately, as neighbors reported that Terri was often too intoxicated to care for her children. There was even a case when she lost consciousness on the front porch, and one of the unattended children was almost hit by a passing car. The neglect has resulted in Jose coming to preschool wearing the same dirty clothes or sometimes missing classes. Moreover, while Jose had always been a polite kid, recently, he began to hit his peers seemingly for no reason. When asked about his actions, he told the teacher, “my daddy hits my mommy.”
As for the mesosystem, the effects of an improper home environment have become apparent to the family’s neighbors and Jose’s teacher. People living nearby have heard yelling in William’s family house when children were at home as well as loud crying, which led them to call child protection services. The neighbors have also contacted the child abuse hotline regarding the problem that many times kids were left unattended. The teacher who noticed the drastic change in Jose’s behavior has done that as well.
The last two systems are not as prominent, but still relevant to the case of the Williams family. The exosystem consists of the parents’ relatives, with who they mostly have less than ideal relationships. One exception to that is Antonio’s brother, who helped the family financially and has been a good uncle to the children. The macrosystem is manifested in notions like the parents’ race being different, the stigma from Tomas’s death, and the family’s poor financial status combined with a lack of support from the state.
Ettekal, A. V., & Mahoney, J. L. (2017). Ecological systems theory. In K. Peppler (Ed.), The Sage Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning. (pp. 239-242). Sage: Thousand Oaks.