Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves"
by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.
From pages 78 - 83:
Chaotic and Rigid families – families at the extreme ends of the adaptability scale – have several things in common. For one thing, they are both rather poorly equipped for problem-solving. While the Rigid family will make some effort to discuss ways to solve problems, they tend to make decisions quickly and arbitrarily, and then to impose them on family members with little forethought or planning. The Chaotic family, by contrast, will often take a great deal of time talking about a problem, but in a confused, disorganized way that makes arriving at a clear conclusion very difficult. The Chaotic family typically does a poor job of following through with whatever decision it finally does come up with.
Both types of families also have a hard time dealing with emotions. The Rigid family tends not to allow the expression of emotions, and those that are expressed tend to be ignored. The result is that a great deal of anger builds up. But it is expressed in indirect and manipulative ways. In the Chaotic family, there is often a lot of expression of emotion, but the structure of family life is such that its meaning and significance get lost in the shuffle. The resulting implusiveness and volatility also stirs up anger...
The Rigid family is a very authoritarian family. Leadership is clearly defined and recognized: everyone knows who the boss is, and everyone knows what the rules are...
The Adaptable Family
The health balance between Rigid and Chaotic families is the Adaptable family. It is characterized by an approach that offers clear but flexible leadership and healthy but adjustable discipline. Everyone knows who is in charge; they also know that the leader is someone who can be talked to and reasoned with. They know that there are rules, and consequences for breaking those rules; they also know the rules are fair and sensible, and that exceptions can be made when the situation warrants.
Problems are discussed, and the discussion leads to a decision that reflects the input of various members of the family, both children and adults. Roles are clear – parents are parents, children are children – but communication is plentiful. People know what is expected of them, and they know how to negotiate those expectations when legitimate needs to do so arise.