families that get along well, relationships are interdependent. Here is
how it works. Everyone relates to everyone else based on each person’s needs
and interests. All family members are seen as important and each person
receives consideration. Within an interdependent family, each relationship
depends on the others. In this sense, family members are interdependent.
At a less effective level, family relationships are supportive.
This means family members do not try to adjust to each other but do try to help
and support each other. They will be sensitive and helpful when it does not
require unusual effort or changes in their ways of doing things.
At a higher risk level, family relationships are protective.
This often occurs in families where alcoholism or violence are present. Think
about TJ’s relationship with his mother.
Family members learn to stay out of the way as much
as possible and play the family game. The main rule of the game is not to upset
things and to do what they can to protect each other. The protection is, of
course, from the alcoholic or family member who becomes violent. Recall TJ’s
trying to protect his mother when Leroy was assaulting her in the kitchen.
At the highest risk level, family relationships are fragmented.
There is not a family in any normal sense. People go their separate ways and
try to stay out of each other’s way. This is what happened in TJ’s family.
First, Pam left and then TJ was pushed out. When he was younger, his mother
tried to protect him; and over time, family relationships for Pam and TJ became
fragmented. Once the children were out, the adults could maintain their