Wellness Wednesday: It’s all about family

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

I’ve just finished watching ‘Mare of Easttown’ on Sky TV and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a detective/murder programme starring Kate Winslet. As well as the investigative storyline, much of the series focusses on the family and relationship dynamics of a number of residents of a small town in the North-East of the USA. The drama gives us insight into the past and present challenges these families have faced and how they have negotiated what they have been dealt with. It is hard-hitting on times, sad, but ultimately affirming.

For months now, the news has been full of the internal dynamics of another famous family: the Mountbatten-Windsors. Wherever you stand on Megxit, the Queen, Prince Philip or Prince Charles’ parenting skills, or Prince Harry’s mental health, I think everyone would agree that it is a shame to see the Royal Family playing out their family difficulties in public.

For most of us, living in a family is our introduction to how life works and how to deal with what life throws at us. What we experience as a member of our family creates our baseline response to the practicalities of the world and the relationships we go on to form. Our expectations of the world are a reflection of how our family members treat us and our place within our family group.

Being part of a family can be profoundly positive emotionally; we often turn to our families when we encounter problems or hard times, and they provide us with advice and support. Things work both ways; we provide that same emotional stability for other members of our family. However, there are inevitable clashes within families, disagreements, and unequal relationships. It is likely that anyone reading this blog will have needed to deal with a difficulty in a family relationship at some point and knows how painful that can be. In some families, the dynamics of relationships are flawed from the onset, and this sets the stage for family conflict occurring as a matter of routine. Referencing TV again, Eastenders is probably the best place to observe this, however most TV soaps manifest the same level of negative family dynamism within their plots.

One of the articles referenced below, the Psychology Blog, says that family psychology is a relatively new branch of study in this field. One study referenced by Julianne Canteralla in her article below shows how stronger family relationships help us to cope with stress. The research review paper below, ‘Family Relationships and Wellbeing’ lists and briefly explains many research papers across the field of family psychological and social research, with links to those papers. They show that there are interesting and, sometimes, unexpected findings in this area of family dynamics and wellbeing.

You may just find it interesting to learn a little but more about how families work. If so, you should find the articles below interesting. The YouTube video ‘How Do Family Relationships Influence Us?’ is particularly interesting and easily accessible.


 ‘Family Psychology Definition and Introduction’ by Psycho Blogger on whatpsychologyis.com

‘The Psychology of Family’ by Saberi Roy on futurehealth.org

‘Psychology: The Basics of Family’ by Adam Cash on dummies.com

‘Understanding Family Dynamics’ on psychologytoday.com

‘Understanding Family Dynamics Meaning and Family Types’ by Julianne Cantarella on themindfool.com

‘How to Protect and Repair Family Relationships’ by Elizabeth Dorrance Hall on psychologytoday.com

‘Family Relationships and Wellbeing’, research article by Patricia A Thomas, PhD, Hui Liu, PhD, and Debra Umberson, PhD on ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

‘How Do Family Relationships Influence Us?’ by A Day In Time on YouTube

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