Essay on The Effects of Incarceration on the Family

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Introduction According to Bowen’s (2013) family systems theory, individuals in a family unit are all interconnected and the system is comprised of interlocking connections (Bowen, 2013). Consequently, whenever an individual in a family system is experiencing a stressor or problem the other individuals in the system will be affected by the stressor and will experience a change in the family system (Bowen, 2013). Bowen (2013) suggests that this family system can be used to understand the dynamics of the family unit and explains that an individual’s behavior has a specific function in his or her own family system (Bowen, 2013). By taking into consideration this theory when looking at a family struggling with an incarcerated parent, it is…show more content…
Content In the family system, whenever a family member is incarcerated the grandparents in the family system will be affected by this change by, sometimes, undergoing a complete role change in their family system in addition to experiencing various changes in their health (Hanlon et al., 2007). Grandparents, in a family system experiencing the incarceration of a parent, will oftentimes undergo a role shift and take over the incarcerated parent’s previous role as primary caregiver to their grandchildren (Hanlon et al., 2007). Additionally, the added stressors of maintaining a connection to the incarcerated family member in addition handling parenting responsibilities leads many grandparents to have poor personal health (Hanlon et al., 2005; Travis et al., 2005). One change in a family system experiencing incarceration that affects grandparents is the difficulty maintaining family ties with the incarcerated individual. Travis, McBride, and Solomon, (2005) state that factors such as the presence of security guards, the time it takes to visit inmates, difficulty of coordinating visits, and geographic location of the prison all hinder the ability for family members to maintain ties with the incarcerated family member (Travis, McBride, & Solomon, 2005). These particular challenges in visitation are difficult for family members, such as grandparents, to
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