Week 1 601A Discuss: The Differences Between Family as a Client and Family as a System Paper

Week 1 601A Discuss: The Differences Between Family as a Client and Family as a System Paper

 Week 1 601A Discuss: The Differences Between Family as a Client and Family as a System Paper

The family is the sum of individual members’ functions and roles. Healthcare providers; especially community health nurses, can offer care to families, especially assessment when they understand the dynamic nature of these units. The changing American family structure implores providers to understand treating a family as a client and system (DeFrain, 2018). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the differences between a family as a client and as a system, and the changing nature of family functions.

Differences Between Family As A Client And Family As A System

The family as a client implies that each individual affects the family as a whole. The focus of family as a client means that the care providers should view the individual members as part of an interacting system in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The implication a family as a client means that the provider needs to apprehend the different components that constitute the unit as part of the entire system (DeFrain, 2018). Each member of the family affects overall decision-making and contributes to the behavioral patterns that all follow as a sense of their unique identity.

The family is a system where each member carries out their roles and must respect existing rules. As a system, members are expected to respond to each other in particular manner based on their role that is determined by the relationship agreements. As a system, members must maintain similar behavioral patterns to attain a balance and avoid dysfunctional situations. The pattern of behaviors develops due to the influence that each member has on the others (DeFrain, 2018). The implication is that the family as a system works in a coordinative manner based on the common goals and aspirations that the members possess.

Family functioning entails the behaviors and activities by respective family members which lead to its maintenance and meet the unitary needs, individual needs, and societal view of family. Family health focuses on the level of wellness in functioning together as a unit (DeFrain, 2018). It also involves how well family members relate to and cope with each other and the outside community.

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Traditional Family Functions Existing Today

Despite the changing nature of the American family, certain traditional functions of the family still exist and are important. These include providing a sense of identity and continuation through bearing offspring or children, providing security and affection, and offering security and acceptance. Further, the family promotes affiliation and companionship for its members. The family is an agent of socialization and the basic unit of society implying that its members start their community interactions within its confines (Seltzer, 2019). The other traditional function of the family is to offer controls to its members.

The changing nature of the American family structure has significant impacts on the members and society at large. Despite these changes from the traditional family of father, mother, and children, more blended, multiracial, and same sex couple families are emerging and becoming acceptable in society. Today, these families are not only diverse and baffling if not surprising but continue to fulfill the desires of their members based on their functions (DeFrain, 2018). The implication is that certain family functions hold meaning because of the integration that they play in members’ lives. For instance, families are still a source of security; both emotional and physical. Families are still source of identity and agents of socialization and development. For instance, families provide direction and completeness for one’s identity. This means that despite changes, families are still a focal point of society.


Healthcare providers, especially nurses, should treat families as systems and clients based on the dynamic roles that they play in individual and community health. As a system, the family works together to achieve members’ needs while as a client, it comprises of different parts that work together to attain a common goal. Despite the changing nature of American family, they still have most of the traditional function



DeFrain, J. (2018). The state of the American family: The paradox of how families and family

values are changing while staying the same. RUDN Journal of Sociology, 18(1):73-87. DOI:10.22363/2313-2272-2018-18-1-73-87

Seltzer, J. A. (2019). Family change and changing family demography. Demography, 56(2), 405-

426.doi: 10.1007/s13524-019-00766-6

Discuss the differences between family as a client and family as a system. What are the traditional family functions performed over history that still exist today? Why do some family functions still hold meaning even in modern times? Review the following article The Changing American Family (Links to an external site.) and recall how changes in family landscapes have affected your practice.

(The Article) American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of Science Times, NATALIE ANGIER takes stock of our changing definition of family.

CHELSEA, MICH. — Kristi and Michael Burns have a lot in common. They love crossword puzzles, football, going to museums and reading five or six books at a time. They describe themselves as mild-mannered introverts who suffer from an array of chronic medical problems. The two share similar marital résumés, too. On their wedding day in 2011, the groom was 43 years old and the bride 39, yet it was marriage No. 3 for both.

Today, their blended family is a sprawling, sometimes uneasy ensemble of two sharp-eyed sons from her two previous husbands, a daughter and son from his second marriage, ex-spouses of varying degrees of involvement, the partners of ex-spouses, the bemused in-laws and a kitten named Agnes that likes to sleep on computer keyboards.
If the Burnses seem atypical as an American nuclear family, how about the Schulte-Waysers, a merry band of two married dads, six kids and two dogs? Or the Indrakrishnans, a successful immigrant couple in Atlanta whose teenage daughter divides her time between prosaic homework and the precision footwork of ancient Hindu dance; the Glusacs of Los Angeles, with their two nearly grown children and their litany of middle-class challenges that seem like minor sagas; Ana Perez and Julian Hill of Harlem, unmarried and just getting by, but with Warren Buffett-size dreams for their three young children; and the alarming number of families with incarcerated parents, a sorry byproduct of America’s status as the world’s leading jailer.

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