The purpose of this paper is to allow students to: understand different definitions of family, apply theoretical knowledge about families as systems that develop and change in relationship to their environments, and to gain critical self-awareness about the impact a family has on one’s development and identity.

In a typewritten, APA 7th edition style, paper of 6-8 pages long (not counting the cover page), develop a comprehensive narrative analysis of one family member (yourself, parents, or siblings, if appropriate). The goal of this analysis is to: help you understand the dynamics of family functioning; give you practice in integrating theory with an actual family member; help you understand how one’s environment influences bio-psycho-social development; and increase self-understanding.

You may use first person in this paper, but keep in mind that this is still a scholarly paper (in other words, you are to write in a formal manner). Be sure that you go beyond description of the family member and that you consistently apply the theoretical approaches and concepts learned in class to the chosen family member. Your grade does not depend on how much private information you include about yourself or a family member but rather how accurate a theory is applied. Please be assured that I hold this information in strict confidence, within the guidelines of the NASW Code of Ethics and applicable laws. Therefore, it is recommended that you not use the family members real name but rather a pseudonym.

Paper Criteria (Please refer to the paper rubric attached to this syllabus)


  1. Description of a family member (20 points) – Pick one family member in the following age group (infancy through adolescence). You may opt to write about yourself as an adolescent, age 18 or under, or younger child. You can also write about a current adult but write about the adult as someone under the age of 18. For example, if you decide to write about your parent make sure to indicate in your paper’s intro what age (0-18) of his or her development you will discuss. For any individual you choose to write about please be sure to indicate the exact age you choose to write about (not an age range) and make sure they are under 18 years of age. Please do not use real names, instead use initials or pseudonyms (e.g., fictitious names) as you would with a client.
  2.  Provide relevant demographic information about the chosen family member, including the exact age.
  3. Provide a bio-psycho-social description of the family member.
    1. Biological System
      1. Discuss the pertinent biological development/status of this individual.
      1. Identify any relevant prenatal concerns that may have impacted this individual.
      1. Please refer to pages 31-32 of your text that provide a detailed description of how to analyze this system (e.g., client’s diet, health (past and present), exercise, sexual functioning, medication, and substance abuse, family and genetic history).
    1. Psychological System
      1. Apply one of the psychological theories that we learned in class (e.g., Erikson, Freud, Rogers, Piaget) relevant to the family member and indicate in which stage (according to the theory) this individual falls under.
      1. Please refer to page 32 of your text that provides a detailed description of how to analyze this system (e.g., client’s self-esteem, coping skills, mental health (both past and present), personality characteristics, family history of mental illness, spiritual development, and cognitive and emotional development).
    1. Social System
      1. Indicate influence from relationships/social systems on the chosen individual- what role do others or social systems (this may include race, ethnicity, socio-economic status) play in the development/status of your chosen individual).
      1. Please refer to page 32 of your text that provides a detailed description of how to analyze this system (e.g., the client’s work stability, engagement with social activities and recreation, and relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.).

2.   Description of the family’s influence on the individual’s behavior (40 points). Please apply all the bullets points listed below that pertain to your chosen family member.

  • Apply and describe the following theories/concepts that are relevant to the chosen family member’s development. For example, if familial separation is not applicable to your chosen family member, please indicate this and move on to the next applicable concept/theory. Do not just describe the theories/concepts that you select, you must apply them to the individual and the individual’s current development. Be sure to indicate in which stage of the relevant theory, if applicable, the individual finds himself or herself in.
    • Ecosystems/Ecological theory and/or Systems theory, select one.
    • Parenting style (identify a specific parenting style) and its impact on the individual.
    • Attachment Style (identity a specific attachment style that individual displayed towards the main caregiver(s)).
    • Discuss relevant issues related to social economic status, infant development, and maternal health, if applicable. 
    • Divorce or other forms of familial separation, if applicable.
    • Racial/ethnic cultural values.
    • Relevant theories of racism, if applicable.  
    • Identify a theory relevant to social learning (e.g., social learning theory, classical or operant conditioning) and indicate how the individuals’ family of origin has supported this process of social learning.
    • Any one of the sociological theories covered in chapter 4, please select one. 
    • Kolberg’s theory of moral development (identify a relevant stage).

3.  Description of Mezzo or Macro Interactions (20 points).

  • Description of one mezzo or one macro theory/concept covered in class that further describes the chosen family member’s current development. Do not repeat the social description provided in section one above. In this section. you will describe how a specific policy, institution, and/or social status (e.g., an immigration policy, DCFS, single parent status) impacts the development of the individual as better explained by one theory or concept of your choice that was covered in class. Remember that biology, family, and the larger environment impact the individual’s behavioral outcome.

Grading Criteria for Grammar and References (20 Points):

  1. Content (80 points): Clarity of main points that demonstrate an understanding of your topic. Utilization of class lecture information. Your paper should demonstrate critical thinking and clear integration of the biopsychosocial human development in the environment. Answering questions 1-3 listed above.
  • References & Citing: A list of 4 or more references should be included. You may use your text and peer reviewed articles. You need to use APA 7th edition style throughout the text and reference page. The references must be published within the last ten years. Please refer to the rubric.
  • Presentation Points will be given for grammar and for presenting work using APA 7th edition writing format (e.g., a title page and appropriate headings and subheadings). Please refer to the rubric. Therefore, you cannot get a 100% even if your paper is strong in content, but weak in grammar and presentation (spelling, typos). This includes page length.

Your paper should be 6-8 pages in length without a cover page, typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins all around and Times New Roman 12-point font. Follow APA 7th edition writing style to include topical headings for each section of your paper and a title page that is placed at the beginning of your paper. The title page does not count as one of the required pages. 

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