Celestina, Frank, And Nicholas
Discuss the interplay of the biological, psychological and social aspects related to human development (e.g. biological and physical growth and maturation; language and cognitive development; mental health conditions and medical conditions; etc.).
It is reasonable to suggest that most families experience many of the same kinds of challenges that are facing these three individuals. In particular, many so-called "blended families" tend to experience a number of the same types of conflicts that are taking place in this family unit. On the one hand, the newly forged marital couple is faced with working out the same types of difficult problems between themselves that all married couples tend to encounter. In Frank and Celestina's case, these problems also included some very significant cross-cultural and religious differences that affected their respective family's perception of their marriage. On the other hand, they are also faced with the antics of a young adult male who is still experimenting with life. Not surprisingly, the effects of Nicholas's behavior on his mother differ substantially from the effects on his step-father, with the former being concerned over his welfare while the latter is concerned over the effects his behaviors are having on his marriage to Celestina.
To be sure, young people such as Nicholas frequently experiment with drugs and alcohol as part of their maturation process, and his initial failed experiences in college are certainly not unique. Likewise, the fact that Nicholas has continued to conceal his homosexuality from his mother and step-father is not uncommon, but this deception has clearly contributed to the tension that exists in this family unit. In reality, though, Frank and Nicholas are more alike than they might realize, with both individuals being recovering substance abusers who are concerned about maintaining their sobriety. Although Frank has a longer period of recovery under his belt than his stepson, the potential for relapse is always present and this potential has been exacerbated in recent months as a result of the friction introduced into the family unit by Nicholas's involvement with the criminal justice system and court-ordered rehabilitation.
One of the more interesting insights made by Frank was that his stepson would have to "bottom out" in order to finally realize that his substance abuse would inevitably lead to institutionalization or death, an insight provided by his own abuse of alcohol and vigorous attempts to remain sober. The case study indicates that Frank joined the military (it does not specify a branch of service, though) because he was not academically inclined at the time, but it is clear that Frank he was capable of learning by virtue of his successful completion of paramedic training. The case study also fails to elucidate what types of potentially traumatic experiences that Frank may have had during his military service, but does indicate that his drinking patterns escalated until his alcohol use interfered with his life in a classical path-to-alcoholism fashion. Therefore, Frank and Nicholas share a common challenge in their lives, and there is a potential for reconciliation between the two if this commonality can be a source of mutual support rather than a divisive issue. In addition, the religious differences that exist between Nicholas and Frank could serve as a useful way for the two to become better acquainted with each other's backgrounds if they are willing to make the effort and are provided with the opportunity to do so. For example, Christensen and Palkovitz report that, "Research has documented positive findings in regard to fathers who are highly involved in childcare. Fathers who are highly involved with their children gain direct knowledge about their children and are able to build a relationship with their children. Fathers who increase their involvement with their children often feel closer to them and develop a stronger parent-child bond" (1998, p. 133). The initial family counseling session may address this issue in which case they will have some type of framework that can be used to help overcome this cultural difference and rather use it a building block for mutual understanding. Otherwise, this additional and potentially disruptive difference could simply be the straw that broke this relationship's back unless the family addresses the some of the most immediate problems facing them, most especially Nicholas's use of crystal methamphetamine which represents a life-threatening situation (Singer, Mirhej, Santelices & Hastings, 2006).
Unfortunately, Celestina is caught directly in the middle of this unwieldy and destabilized family dynamic, but there are some resources that she could use to help her navigate her way through it. Twelve-step programs such as Al-Anon can provide her with the tools and support she needs during this critical phase of her marriage, as well as helping her understand the complexities of the substance abuse process and the difficulties that are involved in treating it (Straussner, 2004). In sum, this family is not doomed, but it is at a crossroads in its evolution that demands active involvement on the part of each family member in order to address the multifaceted nature of the problems that are facing them in the short-term if they are to reach any type of long-term solution.
Compare and contrast Celestina and Nick's passage through the psychosocial stages of adolescence (identity vs. role confusion).
Celestina. This person's adolescent phase was marked by an influential religious orientation and repeated exposure to a substance-abusing father until his death when she was 14 years old, followed by a cross-country move and relocation in Los Angeles. This unsettling episode in her life was followed by a violent but brief marriage. There were also some significant cultural forces that influenced Celestina's adolescence that contributed to her early marriage to another Puerto Rican based largely on her mother's relationship with her new husband's mother rather than any particular sense of love for him. The identity that Celestina forged during this formative period in her life was therefore based on a wide range of social, religious and cultural factors that made her the unique individual she is today. For instance, Pistole and Roberts (2002) reports that, "Identity includes a solid understanding of both inclusive (e.g., who we are) and exclusive (e.g., who we are not) aspects" (p. 2). The inclusive factors that were especially influential for Celstina included the valuable support that was provided by her mother and extended family during her transition from New York to Los Angeles. This support included helping Celestina secure meaningful employment as well as attaining her nursing license. The exclusive factors that were most salient in Celestina's identity creation likely included her Puerto Rican background that set her apart to some extent from the mainstream societies in which she was living, a factor that also contributed to her reliance on her family resources to help her through these challenging periods in her life.
Because a young son was involved, the case study indicates that Celestina's primary motivational factor in seeking a divorce from her abusive husband was to protect and care for Nicholas. It is reasonable to suggest that this factor continues to represent an overriding consideration in Celestina's life and her focus will remain tied to the provision of support and care for her son, even if it means further disruptions to her increasingly tenuous relationship with Frank. Nevertheless, the case study also indicates that the family has taken steps to help confront the significant problems that are facing them, and the family therapy session may provide them with the insights and understanding each of them needs in order to successfully resolve their individual and collective problems.
Nicholas. This young man is going through some difficult times that are attributable in part to his inability to resolve the conflict identity crisis that has been created by his closeted homosexuality. This fundamental constraint to identity development will remain a problem for Nicholas until he makes the decision to communicate more fully with his immediate and extended family. This is a difficult decision for anyone, of course, but for someone in Nicholas's position, it is particularly challenging because of the cultural forces that are involved. For example, Rhoads (1999) describes the experiences of another young man born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York and provides some useful observations about perceptions of homosexuality among many Puerto Ricans today that contribute to a sense of isolation on the part of Nicholas. In this regard, Rhoads reports that the young man, Tito, describes his perception of gays in his homeland thusly: "As long as it's kept secret and not discussed in public, then no one seems to care. As long as queers appear 'shamed' and remain hidden, everything is okay. But come out and go public, create noise, and the church and all the conservatives will go to lengths to put 'homosexuals' back in their proper place -- the closet" (1999, p. 135).
In addition, Tito describes how homosexuality is regarded differently in the United States compared to Puerto Rico, with the specific example being the concept that men in Puerto Rico "who engage in sex…