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The Sultenfuss family from My Girl Created by: Katie Day

Meet the Sultenfuss Family


GRAMOO SULTENFUSS Gramoo is 81-years old and Harry’s senile mother. She lives with Harry and Vada and spends most of her time sitting in her chair in her living room. She enjoys letting Vada sit on her lap and singing. Occasionally, she will interrupt funeral services and take that opportunity to sing to her “audience”. PHIL SULTENFUSS


mEET VADA Vada is an 11-year-old who is full of spunk and can be found hanging out with her best friend Thomas J. Vada bas grown up without a mother and during this crucial time of development into adolescence, she has especially wished that her mother was there to help her navigate this chapter of her life. Since she has grown up around death and dying, she has a misconception of illnesses and is constantly worried about dying. She even believes that she killed her mother. She visits the local doctor’s ofďŹ ce frequently so that he can give her a prognosis, claiming she has a chicken bone in her throat and that she has a problem with her prostate. Not only has she been surrounded by death around her place of living, but her best friend Thomas J died due to an anaphylactic reaction to bee stings. Unfortunately, her father has not been the best at helping Vada process death or explaining how her mother died.

The Family Dynamics Duvall’s Developmental Stages Kaakinen, Duff-Gedaly, Hanson & Coelho, (2015). Since Vada is an only child, the Sultenfuss’ stage will be based on her, which is the school-age stage. Understanding these family developmental stages helps the nurse “anticipate the reorganization necessary to accommodate the expected growth and development of family members” (Kaakinen, Duff-Gedaly, Hanson & Coelho, 2015). At this stage, parents begin to let their child go as they become increasingly independent as well as encouraging them in their educational achievement. At this stage, school-age children value their relationship with their neighborhood and school, which is very true for Vada. She signed herself up for a summer writing class and can always be found out in the neighborhood with her best friend, TJ.

Culture & Religious Traditions The Sultenfuss’ are a middle-class family living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Their blended family includes Vada, Harry, his fiance Shelly, his brother Phil, and his mother. Although, Phill does not live with them, he comes over to the house frequently. The Sultenfuss family hold Christian beliefs and pray before their family meals and they celebrate holidays together as an intimate family unit. Vada also recognizes that there’s a heaven because she told Thomas J’s mother not to worry because her mother in heaven will look after him. As for Vada’s relationship with Shelly, it took awhile for Vada to accept Shelly as part of their family. The dynamic between child and stepmother is a complicated one, but Vada has learned to accept Shelly’s role as a stepmother and understands that her father loves her but that she will never replace her birth mother. The Sultenfuss family is well known in the community since Harry is the town’s mortician.


Challenges ● ●

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Harry has a difficult time emotionally connecting to Vada. Harry has not explained or discussed what exactly he does for a profession. Vada has not had a motherly figure in your life during important developmental milestones. Vada’s best friend Thomas J dies furthering her complicated relationship with death. After finding out that Thomas J died of bee stings, Vada rushed to the doctor’s office claiming that she feels the bees all over her body and to help save her from the bees.


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THE FRIEDMAN FAMILY ASSESSMENT MODEL (Kaakinen, Duff-Gedaly, Hanson & Coelho, 2015). This model is used when the family-in-community is the setting for care. This model is most appropriate for the Sultenfuss family because this model assesses the family system as a whole, as a submit of the society, and as an interactional system (Kaakinen, Duff-Gedaly, Hanson & Coelho, 2015).

The Sultenfuss is intimately connected with the community because of their role as coordinating and hosting funerals in their residence. Vada’s illness anxiety disorder stems from her believing she killed her mother during childbirth. It is challenging to not be constantly reminded of death considering her father is the town’s mortician and services are held in their home. It is important to assess that this family not only has an important role in maintaining a healthy environment for Vada but to recognize the important role Harry plays in the community. Additionally, this model addresses stressors and how stressors are being managed in the family. It is obvious that Harry has had a challenging time managing the stress of being a mortician and a single father raising a pubescent daughter. As a nurse, it is important to assess all of the needs of the family and how they can function in a healthy way among themselves so that they can continue to partner with and help the community for which they serve.


Interventions & Outcomes ● ○


Uppal, Mason, Mahoney & Andrews, 2018). Outcome:

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Newby, Smith,

References Ackley, B.J., Ladwig, G.B. (2015). Nursing Diagnosis Handbook. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby Burkhouse, K. L., Kujawa, A., Klumpp, H., Fitzgerald, K. D., Monk, C. S., & Phan, K. L. (2017). Neural correlates of explicit and implicit emotion processing in relation to treatment response in pediatric anxiety. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 58(5), 546–554. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csusm.edu/10.1111/jcpp.12658 Kaakinen, J., Duff-Gedaly, V., Hanson, S. & Coelho, D. (2015). Family health care nursing: Theory, practice and research (5th ed.). F.A. Davis: Philadelphia. Maharaja, S.G. (2017). Anxiety Disorders Sourcebook. Omnigraphics, Inc. Moore, T. (2018). Helping Children and Adolescents Think About Death, Dying, and Bereavement, Mariam Carter. British Journal of Social Work, 48(5), 1498-1500. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csusm.edu10.1093/bjsw/bcx079 Newby, J.M., Smith, J., Uppal, S., Mason, E., Mahoney, A.E., & Andrews, G. (2018). Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy versus psychoeducation control for illness anxiety disorder and somatic symptoms disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(1), 89-98. https://doi-org.ezprozy.csusm.edu/10.1037/ccp0000248.supp

Picture References [Untitled Doctor]. Retrieved from http://breakfastatthezemkes.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-am-vada-sultenfuss.html [Untitled Family Picnic]. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/gatorwebb88/movie-my-girl/ [Untitled Grandma]. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/gatorwebb88/movie-my-girl/ [Untitled Harry]. Retrieved from http://hellonikki.net/blog/2012/02/hypochondriac.html [Untitled Phil]. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102492/mediaviewer/rm2387948544 [Untitled Porch]. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102492/mediaviewer/rm3025482752 [Untitled Shelly]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@ModCloth/why-we-want-every-outďŹ t-worn-by-jamie-lee-curtis-in-my-girl-23b6a8ae79b [Untitled Talking]. Retrieved from https://thescriptlab.com/features/main/8567-life-death-themes-screenwriting-in-depth-look-my-girl/ [Untitled Vada and Doctor]. Retrieved from http://hellonikki.net/blog/2012/02/hypochondriac.html [Untitled Vada and TJ]. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518688082057398858/

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