Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay


The family unit is a fundamental block in society and the relationship between family members has a major impact on an individual’s well being. Not all families function properly and to help restore family balance, family therapy can be applied. In family therapy, a number of theories and concepts have been developed to assist families. These concepts include cybernetics, parenting styles- authoritative and logical consequences. In this paper, I will explain the three concepts and illustrate how I would apply the concepts in my future career as a child and youth counselor. I will also explain how I will educate parents on these theories to help them better deal with their children. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay


A concept that will be applicable in working with families is cybernetics which is hailed as the most influential model on operations of the family. Nichols and Schwartz (2007) define cybernetics as the “study of feedback mechanisms in self-regulating systems” (Nichols & Schwartz, 2007, 57). In the family context, the cybernetics concept shows that families are able to maintain a stable relationship by using information about their performance as feedback. This feedback is the core of cybernetics and the information is used to regulate the system and hence maintain a steady course. Feedback can be both positive and negative, and both forms of feedbacks are equally important in restoring the status quo of the system.Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

What I learned from this concept

An important thing that I learned from Cybernetics is that both the negative and positive feedback can have desirable or undesirable consequences depending on how they are handled. Nichols and Schwarts (2007) assert that positive feedback if left unchecked will result in reinforcing effects which will result in a runaway process. On the other hand, too much negative feedback will stifle growth and lead to resentment. As such, there needs to be a balance of positive and negative feedback for the system to survive favorably.

How I will apply the Concept In my Future

There are a number of ways through which I will apply cybernetics in my future career as a child and youth Counselor. From my understanding of the importance of both feedbacks, I will ensure that my clients do not overuse one feedback at the expense of the other. I will therefore set out to identify the kind of feedback being used by parents and the effect it is having on the family relationship. I will also teach my patients to recognize feedback information and use it to bring about the desirable balance to the system. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

Teaching the Theory to Parents

To teach Cybernetics to parents, I will make use of illustrations. First of all, I will demonstrate that there is already a cybernetic system in operation in the family. To do this, I will ask the parents to highlight the family rules which govern the family system. I will then show the parents that this is actually the homeostatic range of the family’s cybernetics. I will give analogies to illustrate how certain undesirable behavior in children (such as rebellion) is the result of a failure to use feedback appropriately. From this, I will demonstrate how proper the use of feedback can restore balance and help the family to remain stable even when faced with conflict and stress. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

Authoritative Parenting Styles

The next concept that can be utilized in helping families is Parenting Styles. Berns (1993) reveals that an authoritative parenting style is one that is democratic in nature and the parent attempts to direct the child’s activity in a rational manner and encourages open communication. The Authoritative parenting styles are characterized by exerting control over the behavior of the children when necessary and at the same time giving respect to the children’s need to make their own decisions (Berns, 1993).

In this style, the parent takes the time to explain parenting policies to the children, and open communication is encouraged. Berns (1993, p.155) articulates that authoritativeness results in incompetence which involves behavior that is “socially responsible, independent, friendly, cooperative, dominant, achievement-oriented, and purposeful”. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

What I learned from this concept

This concept taught me that I also learned that the parenting style adopted when bringing up children will have an impact on the children’s behavior. In particular, the authoritative parenting style results in children who have a healthy sense of autonomy and who are responsible. Authoritative parenting is especially productive in the adolescent stage since it is positively correlated with adolescent school performance. An important aspect of parenting styles that I learned was that while parenting style has an impact on the behavior of the child, the child’s behavior also influences the parenting styles.

How I will apply this concept in my Future Work

This concept will be very helpful in my future work since I will be able to notice negative behavior in children that is the result of the parenting style adopted by the parents. I will also be able to take corrective action by recommending parenting styles that are more productive for parents who practice detrimental parenting styles. With the realization that the child’s behavior has a bearing on the parenting style adopted, I will influence the children and youth I work with to change their behavior in such a manner as to encourage productive parenting styles from their parents. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

Teaching the Theory to Parents

Teaching this theory to parents will require me to first of all help a parent identify the parenting style that they use on their children. This will be done through self-evaluation where the parents will be required to honestly answer some questions about how they treat their children. I will then show the parent the relationship between his/her parenting style and the behavior exhibited by their child. I will proceed to articulate the negative or positive impacts of the parenting style adopted by the parent.


Logical Consequences

Logical consequences are actions that occur with the intervention of an adult and their purpose is to create a helpful learning experience for the child (Nelson, 1996). Nelson (1996) goes on to state that logical consequences are most helpful when the child is involved beforehand in deciding the consequence that is most conducive to create a learning experience. The concept also teaches that kind and firm consequences are appropriate to teach children respectful and responsible behavior. Nelson (1996) states that to help ensure that the solutions arrived at are logical consequences and not punishments, the three Rs which are: Related, Respectful, and Reasonable, need to be followed. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

What I learned from this Concept

This concept highlighted to me the importance of parents discussing logical consequences with the child in advance. This helps the child to develop responsibility and accountability which may not be the case if they do not have a part in deciding the logical consequences for their actions. I also learned that logical consequences can be a more effective way to help children develop responsibility than resulting in punishments.

This is because logical consequences result in more learning than punishments do. Another important revelation that I got from this concept is that suffering and shame are not necessary for positive change and logical consequences do not require suffering. Personally, I have always harbored the belief that pain and shame play a positive role in bringing about positive change in a child. Logical consequences made me see that shame violates the respectfulness which a child deserves and therefore decreases the opportunity for learning. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

How I will apply this concept in my Future Work

Effectively applying logical consequences has an impact on their productivity. As a counselor, I would therefore endeavor to educate parents on the best ways to implement logical consequences. My major objective will be to help parents to overcome the mentality of causing the child to suffer for his misbehavior instead of helping him change. Nelson (1996) asserts that the reason why parents favor punishment is to demonstrate power or gain revenge by making the child suffer. Bearing this in mind, I will sensitize the parents I work with on this subconscious desire and show them how it is detrimental to the well being of their children.Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

Teaching the Theory to Parents

Many parents rely on traditional punishments in their attempts to motivate children to do better. Some parents do not know of effective alternatives to punishments and for this group, introducing them to logical consequences will give them a good alternative that they can use on their children. To teach the parents about this theory, I will demonstrate to them that children do better when they feel better as opposed to when they are made to feel miserable. Punishments result in misery which makes the child seek revenge. Logical consequences on the other hand do not bring misery and result in respect.


This paper set out to explain three significant concepts that can be applied to helping families. I have discussed what the respective concepts mean and illustrated how I can apply the concepts in my future as a child and youth counselor. I have also stated how the concepts will help me in my future work in the family helping profession. By applying these concepts and educating parents on the same, I will be able to being about positive changes in the lives of families. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay


Berns, R (1993). Child, Family, Community: Parenting Styles. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Nichols, M. & Schwartz, R. (2007). The Fundamental Concepts of Family Therapy. Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.

Nelson, J. (1996). Positive Discipline: Natural and logical consequences. Toronto, ON: Random House. Cybernetics and Parenting Styles in Family Therapy Essay

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