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Relationships 21 Belief systems The first part of this chapter deals with the behavioural and emotional styles of relationships. These patterns exist within a conceptual framework known as a family’s belief system. A belief system is a family’s way of knowing and understanding its world. It can be likened to a ‘filter’ or lens through which events are passed and interpreted. The work of Reiss (1981) shows that families operate within a conceptual and behavioural framework which regulates and maintains family balance.

I came first in the running. MUM [smiling]. What did you get then? ANDREW. Chocolate. SHARON. That wasn’t a prize. ]. That’s nice anyway, they didn’t have to give a prize. ] Didn’t you get anything for just running? ] MUM. Open your mouth and talk to me. ANDREW [still mumbling]. I came second in the bean bag races and first in the sack race. MUM. Well, don’t they have normal sprinting? Didn’t you run at all? SHARON. Yeah…he won that…. ]. No! Who told you that? ]. He just told you. ] No he didn’t, he said he came first in the bag race.

The tendency towards stability is known as homeostasis and has the function of protecting the family organization from chaos or disintegration. The capacity for change indicates the family’s ability to find a new organization more appropriate to changed circumstances. STABILITY (HOMEOSTASIS) Between transitional points in the evolution of a family there will appear habitual patterns of interaction that are repetitive, familiar, and predictable. Such processes will be consistent with the belief system and the current definition of relationships.

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