FAS 331: Marriage and Family Relationships (Spring 2001)

Family Genogram Assignment


The goal of this homework assignment is to develop a family genogram (see pp. 28-29 of your text). A family genogram is a diagram of your family’s emotional relationships, with family broadly defined to include parents, siblings, your own children, extended family members, and even non-family members who you consider to be part of your family. Using a diagram, you will represent your view of your family and characterize the relationships between members of your family. You can represent your family as it currently exists or at another point in your development (e.g., when you were a child, when you were a teenager).


This assignment is worth up to 20 points and is due on March 27th at 12:15pm. Late assignments are due by March 29th at 12:15pm. Four points will be deducted for late assignments. No assignments will be accepted after March 29th at 12:15pm.


Family Genogram:

1.     Decide who represents your family. You can include multiple sets of parents, siblings, your own children, extended family members, or others who have played an integral role in your family life.


2.     Each family member should be represented by a symbol (square, triangle, circle) or a color on your diagram. There are no restrictions on whom you include or how you symbolize them, but you must explain your use of symbols in a key and in your narrative. The following information should be included about each family member on your diagram: age, sex, and relationship to you (e.g., cousin, sister, grandparent, godparent). For married couples, you should include years of marriage, and divorce and remarriage information where relevant on your diagram.


3.     Family members should be arranged in a way that symbolizes their emotional relationship with you and with each other. For example, place the symbols for family members that are distant farther away than for family members that are emotionally close. You should use connecting lines and circles (around groups of symbols) to represent the nature of relationships between individual family members and groups of family members who are particularly close or who are left out of family interactions. Be sure to include a key explaining connecting lines, circles, and other symbols on your diagram.


4.     Be creative in arranging your family diagram and professional in your presentation of this project; your assignment will be graded on both qualities. You can generate your diagram using a computer program (e.g., Microsoft Word, Power Point) or it can be neatly handwritten. (It is preferable that you create a computer generated diagram.) If your diagram is on one sheet of paper, it can be no larger than an 11 x 14 sheet. Alternatively, you can use a single or several 8 x 11 pages to display your diagram.



You must write a three page narrative describing your family genogram. Three issues should be addressed in this narrative. First, you should begin by defining what the term “family” means to you and describing how your definition of family influenced the content of your genogram. Second, you should explain how your use of symbols, placement of family members, connecting lines, and boundaries represent the members of your family and particularly the relationships within the family. You should also discuss your reasons for excluding family members that it may have been logical to include. The third aspect of your narrative should classify your family as open-type, closed-type, or random-type (based on p. 190 in your book). It is essential that you provide specific examples to explain why you classified your family as one of these three types or to explain why your family does not fit into one of these three classifications.


This narrative must be double-spaced, typed, and written in complete sentences and paragraph form. You should have clear transitions between sentences and paragraphs. Not only will this narrative be graded for content, you will receive points for grammar and writing style. Be sure to carefully proof your assignment for spelling and typographical errors.