Chapter 2: All in the family

A shift in family roles

I’ve been there
Bev talks the care provided at home by the men in her family. (3:22)Video transcript

My sister has always been the quiet one. Well, after our father got sick, she started to take over. I felt like my own world had ground to a halt; I couldn’t do anything useful. My brother got totally absorbed in anything as long as it had nothing to do with Dad.

Existing family roles

Family is anyone identified as family. It may include a parent and children; a group of siblings and their partners; multiple generations; kinship systems with members who aren’t related by blood or marriage; and a group of friends. Every family has its own rules, roles, and ways of communicating. When someone is ill, the family roles change, and everyone adjusts in their own way.

Family member reactions

Family roles can change dramatically when someone in the family is diagnosed with a serious illness. Everyone’s roles naturally change.  

Family member interactions

Even if individual family members stick close to their roles, the situation will likely intensify the ways they interact. This may force differences and issues to the surface.