Raymond and Minnie were an immigrant couple from Poland that were trying to adapt to a new life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan coming with nothing except for minimal relics from their home country and their two young children in 1933. The family life cycle had undergone massive change and was attempting to rebuild itself by finding solutions to a new cultural and societal transition. This case study begins at what Carter and McGoldrick (1980: 10) have noted as the leaving home transition point for the family life cycle. The home was Eastern Europe and the beginning was tainted by attempted solutions to adjust to this crisis of leaving behind aging parents and journeying to a land unknown.
Coming from Europe with dreams of a better life, the adjustment to the cultural expectations was very intense. Linguistically, English was of course the second language and religiously too, as a result of a strong Orthodox Jewish upbringing, there was a big disruption. The family hierarchy had to reorganize itself and both began to search for jobs immediately. Minnie, who was young and used to being dependent on a community, quickly became an equal breadwinner to her husband. As a result, the shift in closeness with her husband was dramatic. She no longer looked up at him on a pedestal but rather saw herself as an equal partner in the role of supporting and raising their children.
Raymond was not so successful in his job seeking abilities; he was aggressive by nature and barely managed to keep a job from week to week. Minnie on the other hand found employment in a school and quickly became a successful teacher. As a result of this, Raymond’s response was a feeling of inadequacy and he sought more outlets for his emotional needs. There was a triadic pattern between the couple and his two close friends became part of the triad, as each time there was conflict, stress, or inadequacy, Raymond sought them out as relief. As a result, Minnie felt deserted and under appreciated thus reinforcing her feelings of superiority at the same time.
As the closeness and dependency deteriorated in the marriage, there was significant involved feedback. The patterns of responses were such that both parents distanced from each other in their parenting style. The feedback was such that the more radical the distance between them the more intensified and single focused was their parenting. For example, Minnie became overly involved and nurturing towards her children, she was massively invested in their success and in their cultural integration. Whereas Raymond saw the children as obstacles and objects to control, they were in his way and his ability to communicate with his children and wife weakened and weakened.
This culminated when his son Isaac asked him for a new bike one day. Raymond’s response was “ask your mother”, making it clearly that if he had any extra money, he would rather spend it on himself. The meta communication was that he didn’t care about others needs...