As we approach the end of another year, we often find ourselves reflecting back on the year past, the good the stuff, the tough stuff and the ‘I’m out of here’ stuff… Therapeutically this is powerful stuff as we always encourage people to take time to reflect upon the lesson’s life is giving them so that they can move forward in a more informed way.
Today I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the way external forces affect our relationships and in particular how ‘minority stress’ can place great challenges on the lives of people who have less traditional family structures…
Let’s understand minority stress more: Minority Stress is a term we use in social and clinical psychology that refers to stressors that are unique to minority group. So, for families who have two parents of the same sex there are a number of social stresses that come with this household dynamic. Just as families who have mixed race dynamics, there too can be unique social factors that place stress on this said family. To define a minority stress, one just needs to identify what about a family unit that may make it subjected to discrimination or judgement about their dynamic. Classic example of minority stress family was single divorcee mothers in say the 1950’s.
What is creating micro stress?
Micro stresses tend to be the product of unconscious bias by a significant group within people’s lives such as micro-aggressions, violence, discrimination, harassment, and lack of approval from friends and family are all forms of minority stress that can adversely affect relationship stability.
How does this affect the family?
Family life in a modern world is tough. It requires actively engaged parents who feel confident and safe within what it is that they do. Micro stress increases an individual’s anxiety, risking that they may make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions, that bring a greater distress into the household.
What to do if I am in a minority style relationship?
if we are in a family unit that is suspectable to minority stress then be aware of how external pressures might be influencing moods and language within your family dynamic. When you can don’t let the views of others affect how you express yourself as a family.
How can I help my friends whose relationship might be affected?
The good news is with more favourable attitudes towards same-sex relationships, multicultural beliefs and more liberal ideas about what constitutes a family we are seeing less and less influence of minority stress on relationship stability; but it is still an issue. If you have friends or family who are affected by this then be a mate and really help them through such stressors as minority stress is ever present; it is not like major life change stress that comes and work through it. Minority stress is constant and often more passive.
In essence be a good friend and follow the sage of Bruce Lee “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
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