In 1958, Reuben Hill came up with a seminal family stress and coping model that would later be improved by McCubbin and Patterson in 1983 who came up with the ABCX model of family adjustment and adaptation. It was from these two foundations that McCubbin and McCubbin (1991) came up with the resiliency model theory for family adaptation and adjustment. This theory has been found useful in therapeutic approaches to families with complex chronic conditions. Consequently, this paper intends to identify the model as developed by McCubbin and McCubbin and show how it can be applied on the article “The search for Social Safety and Comfort in Families Raising Children with Complex Chronic Conditions” (Spina, Ziviani & Nixon, 2005, p. 45).
The resiliency model has as its main argument the supposition that “families manage stressful situations over time…emphasizes the family’s ability to recover from stressful events and crises by drawing on patterns of functioning, strengths, capabilities, appraisal processes, coping, resources and problem solving to facilitate adaptation” (Bomar, 2004, p. 379). In his examination of the theory of resiliency, Bomar further adopts the definition of family resiliency as the unique characteristics of a family as a unit that allow it to react in response to a given stressor. By being able to respond positively, the family can be assured of positive functioning and thus the well-being of its members.
McCubbin & McCubbin (1991) argue that there are two phases involved in a family’s response to life’s challenges and events. The first phase is referred to as the adjustment phase. These are changes that a family will have to create in their normal daily routines and processes and the changes are considered minor and easy. These changes include moving to a new neighborhood, changing jobs or minor illnesses within the family. The second phase is referred to as the adaptation phase. In this phase, the expected adjustments are usually difficult to make and hence any slight adjustment leads to a crisis within the family unit.
Before the development of a crisis, several factors contribute greatly. Based on the resilience model, three factors are clearly brought forth as factors leading to the development. In addition, the family response to the developing crisis is also determined by certain given factors. The first factor that led to the development of the crisis in the families in the article was the presence of a stressor. In this case, the stressor was children with complex chronic conditions. Medically fragile and developmentally delayed kids in all these families were the main stressors and therefore acted as the main reasons why the families had to adjust and accommodate them in their daily lives. As mentioned in the model, the adjustment phase includes changes that are easy to adapt hence leading to little or no crisis at all. However, in this case, the complex chronic conditions were stressors that needed the families to go beyond the adjustment phase through to the second phase of adaptation. They had to make permanent changes with which poor response could lead to maladjustment and hence crises (Bomar, 2004).
Considering the social consequences related to the presence of these medical complications, other factors became inevitable in the development and response to the crisis. For instance, family vulnerability and type played a major role. Family vulnerability involves the bonds that form the interpersonal relations and how the different systems are interlinked within the family organization, demands that include family members’ developmental changes and lifestyle with which the family is experiencing during the development of the crisis. On the other hand, the type of a family determines its way of operating and functioning. Similarly, this will determine the way they respond to stressors. Regenerative family type, resilient family type, rhythmic family type and the traditionalistic model families form the four main types of families that eventually implicate the family’s function and operations (Deborah, Thompson, & Pamela, 2009).
In the article, the findings point out that the social consequences of having a medically fragile or developmentally delayed child are divided into three distinct categories; making plans to address the physical and mental needs of the child, identifying channels to address the hurdles in social participation, and developing ways through which all members of the family can enjoy some social comfort despite the challenges. These factors directly relate to resilience theory as developed by McCubbin and McCubbin. In the theory, the type of family plays a role in the determination of how the family responds to stressors. In this case, regenerative families that are characterized by hardness and tight coherence are very likely to develop good measures to address the named challenges. On the other hand, the types of families that rank lowest in terms of hardiness and coherence, also referred to as vulnerable families are very likely to result into maladjustment. Consequently, the families might not be able to address the mental and physical needs of the child considering their lose family bond. In addition, they might develop bad channels of enjoying social comfort and addressing the hurdles associated with the challenge. Having loose family bond, they might develop selfish means of addressing these. This is very likely the factors that led to differences in dealing with challenge of medically fragile and developmentally delayed children in the families in this article (Rehm & Bradley, 2005).
To cope with such challenges, the resilience model identifies several resources that can help the family to cope. Among them is constantly appraising the stressor factor as a family, constant communication and development of manageable steps to deal with the crisis, and using emotional focus to make the family members change their expectations reasonably. In this article, some of the families avoided some activities. For instance, one of the responded says that they could visit the zoo but they could not visit Disneyland because their child was on the wheel chair. Other families avoided engaging in activities that would lead to the discomfort of their affected child. i.e. one respondent said that they had to avoid some party invitations in order to stay with the child and give him the needed attention. Spirituality marked another way through which the families responded to the crisis. The church offered comfort and reception that was highly yearned for by the families. In other cases, forming social groups of families with children needing special attention was another way of seeking comfort. Through interaction with other families, life resumed normality despite the challenges. These were the main ways through which comfort was attained in most of these families.
There are some institutions that have devoted themselves to assisting such parents. Among them are Burlington Counseling and Family Services. This center would be very useful for these families because it offers services for families that are living with a member having a chronic illness. In addition, the center has flexible programs for self-referrals or professional ones. It offers its services in several languages including English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and several others. This makes it accessible by many people. The financial requirements for this agency are also flexible. They offer financial assistance for qualifying families. Furthermore, their charges are based on the family’s economic ability. For further details, one can visit their site titled Halton Senior’s Directory.
Bomar, P. (2004). Promoting health in families: Applying family research and theory to nursing. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Deborah, J., Thompson, D., & Pamela A. (2009). From Family Stress to Family Strengths. Web.
McCubbin, H. & McCubbin, N. (1991). Typologies of resilient families: Emerging roles of social class and ethnicities. Family Relations, 37(3), 247-254.
Rehm R. & Bradley, J. (2005). The search for social safety and comfort in families raising children with complex chronic conditions. Journal of family nursing, 11, 59-78.
Spina S, Ziviani J. & Nixon J. (2005). Children, Brain Injury and the Resiliency Model of Family Adaptation. Brain impairment, 6, 33-34.