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Book Review Example: Family Relationships, Caribbean Experiences

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George Washington University
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Book review
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Waithe, Neilson A. Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences. Bethlehem, Pa: Moravian Church in America, 2010. Print.

In his book Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences, Waithe addresses the issues that couples are facing in their relationships within a Caribbean context. This book by Waithe sheds light on the real-life issues and also provides answers to such cases with realistic insights as they try to find meaning in their daily lives. The author of this book uses his counseling and pastoral care experiences to deal with the struggles that Caribbean couples in relationships are facing. Waithe further incorporates cases he has dealt with in his work as he tries to address common family relationship struggles in the Caribbean. Waithe is also able to present the major themes in this book in a contextual, pragmatic and relevant way. This report, therefore, seeks to critically examine the major themes family relationships within the Caribbean from the perspective of the author, Waithe Neilson.

Waithe in his book explores this relationship struggle by dividing it into three themes. They are The Church and the Single Female; I cant take it anymore and changing their Minds. Waithe in this book affirms that many relationships within the Caribbean were able to survive despite all the troubles that they faced. Waithe further asserts that the disintegration facing relationships in the Caribbean is not anything new. Waithe provides the reader with the major factors that affect these relationships including traditions, new social and legal laws, family structures and issues of immigration. He further conceives that divorce and breakup should be analyzed in light of the above circumstances and shuns the idea of approaching these struggles with a simplistic mindset. However, though there are several challenges facing couples in relationships within the Caribbean, Waithe thinks that there is a mixture of hope and fatality. He asserts that divorce and breakups will always be present within a society, but says that it is the duty of the courts and the church to ensure that there are buffers that provide support for those who need help.

It is facts that breakups and divorce is a struggle that is affecting most relationships in the Caribbean. The church in this context is seen as a resource rather than a perpetrator. This is a bias because history shows that the church played a part in the divorce and breakups. An example is when one had to break up with their concubine so as to join the church. For this and other reasons, the church should not be presented as a resource. This is also because of the church more colonial and less mature in the way it approached ministry and pastoral care in the past. There is also the issue where pastors give the singles permission to remarry or marry, and this holds the singles hostage forcing them to be single. This issue is not addressed with balance in this book by Waithe.

Happiness in relationships gives a theological statement of hope and triumph. After all the struggles, disappointments, and obstacles people in the Caribbean face, Waithe feels that there is hope of something good happening. Waithe uses powerful statements in the book to try and shed more light on happiness in relationships. One of the quotes states The most fundamental function of pastoral counseling, in addition to enabling a person to become free to be responsible, is to relieve pain (Waithe). The second example says, In counseling with persons it is important that the counselor helps them to recognize and accept that, for the most part, the individual holds the key to their own happiness in relationships (Waithe). To further elaborate on happiness, Waithe looks into four major themes namely, Importance of Humor, Intimacy and Fulfillment, Realistic and Unrealistic Expectations and The Value of Growth. In the issue of growth, Waithe portrays pain as the major foundation for growth. This notion is true in the sense that theologically and biblically even the church according to the scriptures grows when persecuted. In the same way people with qualities of spiritual or social growth, interpersonal skills also go through trials and testings. In the book, Waithe uses the paradigms from the book of Mark 10:51 to elaborate further on growth and the concept of individual responsibility. This verse is relevant because it gives a biblical perspective on happiness in a relationship. However, this text is limited to religious or Christian people.

One major statement that stands out in this book is Growth is dynamic and not static... This statement is important in that it shows how individuals struggle with relationship issues that most of the times they see the negative side instead of focusing on the positive aspects. This statement prepares the reader to booklover to deal with the realistic and unrealistic expectations people have in life. The author places maturity as one of the key characteristics of a good relationship and individualism and selfishness are considered antithesis that destroy any chance of a relationship survival. Within the Caribbean, all relationships have some form of expectations whether implied or stated. This implies that relationships in the Caribbean context are accepted by individuals with divergent degrees of happiness. According to Waithe, fulfillment also presents challenges in relationships. This notion premises that relationships in the Caribbean are monogamous, though the acts of intimacy within relationships can help people cope in a better way. Humor in relationships is also considered an important factor for a thriving relationship according to Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences.

Waithe in this book portrays himself as a counselor who goes against the conventional ethical expectations and practices in his quest to find ways for his pastoral and counseling practices to more effective. Waithe is bold and brave enough to include all the guidance materials for relationships counseling and is also able to practice it. He accommodates everyone in his book because he understands that some authors are parochial and westernized. These people presuppose that counseling materials are only for the males, whites and the middle class. The practices Waithe talks about in his book speak about the importance of breaking the status quo and establishing a movement that contextualizes counseling a pastoral care. Waithe further, explains that the work of couples is to make each other feel comfortable. However, without an addendum, this statement could be misinterpreted. The simplest way of explaining ought to be, after the risks and vulnerabilities couples go through, they get the will to be comfortable in those relationships.

In other sociological studies, intimate relationships in the 1980s were based on interpersonal relationships, which are considered as a move away from the structures and functions of kinship and family. Nonetheless, the Marxist theory generates a new analysis reflects a sociological desire to look deeper into the role of the family in the relationship dynamics. However, there are huge gaps in the in the literature on relationships. The exclusive heterosexual relations and family relationships were challenged and critiques as normative and narrow. In addition, the basic understanding of family as a knowable entity was undermined by analysis that emphasized the contingent, complex and reality lived by family members. The book Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences helps in redeeming relationships.

This book uses a friendly tone and approaches the concepts of family relationships within the Caribbean in a realistic manner. Particularly, for the social worker, service worker, student apprentice, and pastoral counselor, it lays a foundation for more research and deeper reflection on the family relationship issues affecting the people of the Caribbean. In regard to how Waithe has explained this struggle in the book Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences, he uses points and factors that are well articulated and this empowers the reader to read through the text. However, Waithes work can be seen to have its own weakness. This book uses insights from personal opinions of Waithe, other than writing it with a presupposition that most people within the Caribbean have the academic knowledge to delve into the subject at hand. In this regard, the academic integrity of this book is undermined. However, it is important to note that the author the book with a happiness concept which reminds all the targeted leaders that good prevails at all times. Theologically, Waithe uses the lamb as a symbol of victory for the experienced as well as the hereafter.


Works Cited

Bloch, Maurice. Marxism and anthropology: the history of a relationship. Routledge, 2013.

Chamberlain, Mary. Family love in the diaspora: migration and the Anglo-Caribbean experience. Vol. 1. Transaction Publishers, 2011.

Gillies, Val. Family and intimate relationships: A review of the sociological research. Families & Social Capital Research Group, South Bank University, 2003.

Miller, Daniel. "What is a relationship? Is kinship negotiated experience?." Ethnos 72.4 (2007): 535-554.

Waithe, Neilson A. Family Relationships: Caribbean Experiences. Bethlehem, Pa: Moravian Church in America, 2010. Print


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