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- All in the Family : An Exploration of Family Functioning in Travel Ice Hockey
- Wright, Emily M.
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Within the youth sport domain, research has primarily emphasized the broad contributions of parents to the development of youth athletes, and the positive and negative impact they may have on children’s psychosocial experiences (Knight, 2019). The importance of family, especially parents, as a direct and indirect influence on a child’s development through sport is well-documented (Dorsch et al., 2021). While a considerable amount of attention has been given to the study of youth sport parents...
Show moreWithin the youth sport domain, research has primarily emphasized the broad contributions of parents to the development of youth athletes, and the positive and negative impact they may have on children’s psychosocial experiences (Knight, 2019). The importance of family, especially parents, as a direct and indirect influence on a child’s development through sport is well-documented (Dorsch et al., 2021). While a considerable amount of attention has been given to the study of youth sport parents, relatively less research has explored the family as a collective system, specifically related to their functioning in sport. Given this information, the overall purpose of this study was to understand family functioning in travel ice hockey. The Circumplex model of marital and family systems (Olson, 2000) was used to guide this study, which is comprised of three dimensions considered essential for understanding family functioning: cohesion, flexibility, and communication. The study was conducted in two phases, each associated with a specific purpose. A retrospective, cross-sectional, mixed methods design was employed by implementing a participant selection model within a multiple case study approach. A participant selection model was implemented to complete Phase 1 of the study. In Phase 1, 35 mothers and/or fathers of travel ice hockey players between the ages of 8-18 years old completed the self-report Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scale – Fourth Edition (FACES IV), a validated measure of perceptions of family functioning. These results were then used to purposefully select four families with maximally different levels of family functioning to complete of this study, which involved in-depth qualitative interviews. To address purpose one, which aimed to use the Circumplex model FACES IV self-report measure to assess family functioning in travel ice hockey families, Phase 1 results suggested that the sample was comprised of normal, balanced functioning types. Thus, the identification of distinct family types nor any of the six family types derived from the validation of the Circumplex model was found. In an absolute sense, the study findings did not reflect the Circumplex model. To address purpose two, which aimed to conduct an exploratory assessment of the utility of the Circumplex model to understand family functioning in the travel ice hockey experience, Phase 2 interview data were then analyzed within and across families according to the dimensions of the Circumplex model. Findings highlighted the nuances of family functioning by highlighting how the four families were characterized as generally normal, balanced family types, yet functioned differently in the context of travel ice hockey. While differences in family functioning within each family case emerged, core themes across the family cases were identified, which supported dimensions of the Circumplex model, while also showcasing other key considerations outside of the Circumplex model that may be important for understanding family functioning in travel ice hockey. The current study emphasized the importance of exploring families as one unit, or system, allowing the researcher to move from an individualized, top-down approach toward a more integrated approach that considered the family as a coordinated system. Taken together, this study enriched our understanding of family functioning in travel ice hockey through use of a systems approach and highlighted the importance of continued research on this topic.