Open Family Systems; Optimal Growth

Continuing our exploration from yesterday in which we looked at closed family systems, today we will examine what an open family system looks like. In an open family system:

  • Individuality is regarded as just as important as the group dynamic. The family as a group is an important element – it is one of the things that provides its members with stability and consistency. In an open system; however, there is just as much emphasis on who its members are as individuals, and those qualities are honoured.
  • Unconditional love is present. In an open system, family members are praised for their successes and forgiven for their mistakes. The group does not suffer as a result of an individual’s mistake. That is not to say that the family does not struggle at times through challenges, and there can be conflict, but an individual is supported through that process and not outcasted as they would be in a closed system.
  • Other people are accepted into the system. In an open system, families accept the partner choices of its members. Again, there may be trepidation or concerns about who a family member has chosen, but the emphasis to conform is not present.
  • Chaos is not typically present and there is a focus on repair. Conflict may arise at times in an open system, but generally speaking, it doesn’t reach chaotic levels. If there are disagreements, there is a also focus on repair. This allows resolution among the individual parties which in turn, strengthens the group.

If you were lucky enough to have been raised in an open system, you are most likely carrying on quite nicely. The lessons we learn from an open system allow us to bring those principles to our own children. If, however, you were not raised in an open system but wish to have one, begin first by examining these characteristics, reading about secure attachment, and adopting a flexible and open thought process to what each individual brings to the group as a whole. Tomorrow we will close out this series with some coping strategies for dealing with a closed system as well working towards an open one.

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