THE GALLAGHER FAMILY
From the hit television show Shameless California State University, San Marcos Spring 2018
GALLAGHER'S The Gallagherâ€™s are a large family of Irish-descent that consists of an alcoholic father, Frank, and his six children. Fiona is the oldest child, followed by Phillip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam. Their biological mother abandoned Frank and her kids after their youngest child was born, and has not been seen for several years. The family lives inside an old twostory home in the South Side of Chicago, which was inherited by Frankâ€™s mother. The Gallagherâ€™s live in poverty and are frequently in trouble with the law or in financial crisis. Since Frank is usually gone from the home at bars or leaves for weeks at a time, all of the financial responsibilities fall in the hands of the children.
Frank is father to the Gallagher children and a chronic alcoholic. He is manipulative, conniving, and selfserving. Throughout his fatherhood he has put his drinking and drug seeking far above his childrens needs. He has had CPS called on his household more than 3 times in the past 5 years due to his poor parenting. He has not only been a neglectful parent, but at times abusive as well by striking his kids in the face. In his youth, he was a college bound student and proved to be very intelligent. However, once meeting his wife Monica he left college and began doing drugs regularly. He survives off of money from governmental aid and social security. He will come home to his childrens home when he does not have a place to stay, but is often gone for months at a time.
Fiona is 21 years old and the main caregiver of the Gallagher children. She is the main financial provider and works several jobs to support her siblings. Fiona dropped out of high school to provide for her siblings and keep them safe, but successfully passed her GED. She not only provides for the children financially, but emotionally as well. Fiona is still attempting to gain custody of all her siblings so that she may have legal rights to care for these kids on her own. She is the ‘mother’ role in the household and lectures the others when their actions aren’t appropriate. She hopes to form her siblings into incredible adults and tries her absolute hardest to give them the life they deserve. Although she is the most openly hurt by her mothers abandonment, she shows her unwavering strength by taking on the role of a parent and a sibling. Despite her success parenting the children of her home, she does often engage in risky sexual behavior that has resulted in an abortion
PHILLIP “LIP” GALLAGHER Lip is 17 years old and incredibly intelligent. Although he gives little effort in school, he receives straight A’s and many teachers unsuccessfully attempt convincing him to peruse college. For money, Lip will take the SAT exam for other people in order to raise money for his family. He is often irresponsible and reckless by getting into fights, having unprotected sex, and stealing. Lip is openly disappointed in his father and wishes to have nothing to do with him. He states that he has never gotten over the stupidity he felt as a child every time his dad began drinking again and does not wish his siblings to be exposed to his behavior. Lip is a chronic cigarette smoker and smokes around one pack a day. He also has shown signs of excessive drinking where he blacks out for several nights each week. When Fiona is overwhelmed with work, Lip picks up the extra tasks to keep the family functioning. Image 4
Ian is 16 years old and the only child that is not biologically Frank’s. His mother cheated on Frank with one of his brothers, but they are still unsure which brother is he is the child of. Ian aspires to join the army once he is 18 years old and takes courses in school to prepare for an army career. However, he recently started exhibiting signs of Bipolar disorder, which his mother also suffers from, which likely will deter his ability to join the army. He works at a liquor store to help with the family finances, but his family is unaware that he is having a homosexual relationship with the married store owner. His brother Lip suspects Ian’s sexual orientation, but gives him his privacy and time to come out when he feels ready. Image 5
Debbie is the third youngest of the Gallagher children. She is 11 years old and very interested in her external appearance. She is one of the few children who finds sympathy for her fatherâ€™s alcoholic condition and often tries to help him with whatever she can. She tried twice, unsuccessfully, at trying to get her father to quit drinking which caused her much frustration. Debbie tries assisting in home finances by hosting a daycare at their home on weekdays. She is bullied occasionally at school by two girls that make fun of her clothes and her weight. She is very curious about boys and tries to act with a level of sexuality beyond what is developmentally appropriate for her age. Debbie has a very sarcastic and sometimes condescending attitude toward her sister Fiona, and often tells her she is not her mother.
CARL GALLAGHER Carl, age 9, is the most rebellious of the Gallagher children. He gets in trouble often at school and with law enforcement. He has tried to purchase guns and has stated his admiration for the kids in Juvenile Detention. Carl does not excel in school, but he remains enrolled since Fiona wont let him drop out. He does not have as much distaste for his father Frank as the other siblings do and often still seeks his attention. He believes that his father cured him of cancer and that he should be grateful for what he has done for their family. However, once Frank punches Carl across the face for talking back to him he begins to show his anger toward Frank. He does this by locking Frank out of the home, and ignoring him when they cross paths. He is a very loyal brother to his whole family, especially toward his older sister Fiona and little brother Liam. Image 7
Liam is the youngest child, aged only 1 year old. He is a very energetic, curious, and happy toddler. Fiona ensures that at all times of the day one of the siblings is home to care for Liam and provide everything competent parents would for their child. Liam loves to explore around the home, play with his brothers and sisters, and paint pictures. He has very little to no relationship with his mother or father due to their absence for the majority of his life. Although his parents have been out of his life, he is shown so much love and affection from his siblings.
Alcoholism Alcoholism is defined as ”an addition to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol dependency” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016, p.1). Frank Gallagher is a chronic alcoholic, as are many other adults across the nation. Not only does alcoholism affect 7 % of American adults, but adolescents may be diagnosed with the condition as well (Alcoholism Addiction Centers, 2016). According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2016), an estimated 623,000 adolescents aged 12-17 were diagnosed with alcoholism. Although treatment is a viable and successful option, less than 10% of people receive any treatment (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016). Unfortunately, even those that do seek help have relapse rates of 40-60% (Alcoholism Addiction Centers, 2016). Research has shown that although alcoholism does seem to run within families, it is also influence by environmental interactions (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016). Genes do play a role in inheriting this condition, by increasing a person’s risk or how they respond to certain treatments (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016). For children that have parents who suffer from alcoholism, they are likely to try alcohol early in age and have it affect their development. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health showed that “adolescent binge drinking can disrupt gene regulation and brain development in wats that promote anxiety and excessive drinking behaviors that can persist into adulthood” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016, p. 1). The children who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become an alcoholic at some point in their lives (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016).
Duvall According to Duvall’s eight stages of family development, the Gallagher family is in the stagefamilies with adolescents. The staging is identified by the age of the oldest child, which in the Gallagher’s case is Fiona. She is still living at home, forming her own identity while still being a strong part of the family. Fiona is constantly thinking about the future, education of her and her siblings, and employment. Additionally, she has increased her role in the family by cooking meals, repairing the home, and being the strong head of the household (Kaakinen, Coehlo, Steel, Tabacco, & Hanson, 2015).
FAMILY CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION
Family Culture and Religious Traditions • The Gallagher family does not have any specific religious affiliations. Although they are not a very religious household, they still do celebrate Christmas • Family culture built on supporting one another and the family as a whole unit. The siblings old enough to be employed split the bills of the home, divide chores, and the older siblings take care of the needs of the younger children of the family. • The siblings approach conflict as a united front and problem solve together by conducting family meetings • Family dinners are normally spent together every night at the table without their father Frank
• Extreme love between the Gallagher siblings • Fiona taking on the role of the head of the household to provide stability for the other children • Relatively equal distribution of chores and responsivities • Inherited home with no house payment • Assistance in child care from close friend and neighbor
• Frequent exposure to alcoholic parent • Absent mother • Living in dangerous neighborhood • Poverty • Children engaging in criminal activities • Fiona required to take on all parental roles and responsibilities • Work interfering with education • Lip displaying signs of alcohol dependence • Frank maintaining legal guardianship
Family Communication Family communication tends to be focused on how the children of the household will solve many problems they face due to their father’s alcoholism and lack of parental support. Fiona, as head of the Gallagher household, often brings up the pressing concerns and is supported with advice and debate from her other siblings. When the younger children do not agree with some of Fiona’s decisions for the household, they often yell at each other, but ultimately Fiona has the final say in financial decisions. When actions are made by the children that Fiona deems as unhealthy or unsafe, she scolds them and yells. For the most part, the Gallagher children communicate together well and show plenty of loving body language (i.e. hugging, kissing, and smiling). When they communicate with Frank, there is hostile nonverbal communication (i.e. crossing arms, frowning, rolling of eyes) and lots of verbal yelling. Frank does not act loving toward the children, and they do not like showing affection toward him as well. There is an overwhelming lack of health promotion within the family unit by smoking cigarettes in the home and excessive drinking of alcohol .
The Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Model is ideal for describing the Gallagher family due to it’s inclusion of environmental influence on biological human development. The model serves as a very holistic and comprehensive approach that relates individual qualities with genetics and the environment. Each member of the family has their own unique characteristics including: age, intelligence, ideals, skills, and appearance. However, the environmental and cultural interactions also contribute to their growth. Lip, for example, has a genius level IQ, but instead of pursuing an education he becomes involved in criminal acts and alcoholism. The factors of alcoholism, poverty, and criminal activity have surrounded the family their whole life; ultimately adding to the likelihood the family will remain in poverty. Bronfenbrenner also focus’s on context and time in relation to development. He created five ‘systems’ that categorize developmental influences including: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem.
The innermost layer of the bioecological model focuses on the context closest to the individuals involved. It is centered amongst their personal relationships and direct interactions. For the Gallagher children, this would be the home they share with one another. Their sibling relationship’s are the strongest bonds they possess and remain each others greatest influence.
The mesosystem includes the interactions between various aspects of the microsystem. Primarily for the Gallagher’s, this is the relationship between the children’s family and schools. They all struggle at complying with what is required from them in school while also providing for their family emotionally and financially. They often skip school so they can work or provide daycare for Liam. Carl also frequently acts out in school and ends up in situations where the school wishes to ‘speak to a parent’, which is problematic due to the absence of their parents.
The exosystem does not directly affect individuals, but it does indirectly influence their lives. The Gallagher’s financial difficulties and lack of parental support affect how the children live their lives and develop. Additionally, their parents legal problems with Child Protective Services affects them greatly by threatening to split the children up amongst foster homes.
The macro system involves an individuals culture, beliefs, and attitudes influencing who a person becomes. One strong belief that the Gallagher’s share is their huge distaste and general disrespect for law enforcement. The family has broken the law by manipulating financial aid, selling illegal items, and committing robbery in order to put food on their table or clothes on their back. Since breaking the law has always been viewed as a ‘survival tactic’, their beliefs have forged a disrespect for law enforcement and rules across the family.
Chronosystem The chronosystem represents the time-factor in development and is largely influential on the Gallagher’s. Everything that has happened in their past has ultimately impacted who each person is today and what they do with their lives. The abandonment of their mother, alcoholism of their father, and immense poverty have greatly affected the way every child has perceived life and the world around them.
INTERVENTIONS Image 10
Intervention 1 Assess the children for signs of severe neglect or abuse such as chronic fatigue, confusion, severe emotional strain, malnourishment, poor hygiene, and unexplainable bruises (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Rationale: Healthcare professionals are often the most alert to even the most subtle signs and symptoms of child abuse that requires professional intervention. Although establishing trust is very important, it is the responsibility of the health care provider to report neglect or abuse to Child Protective Services since it threatens life (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Possible Outcomes • Signs of physical abuse are identified on a child’s body and appropriate reporting is conducted by the healthcare professional to maintain the safety of the children. • No bruises, fractures, poor hygiene, or chronic fatigue is observed on any of the Gallagher children. • During the assessment the children are questioned about their home/family life in a non-threatening fashion and details about fathers drinking problems are disclosed.
Intervention 2 Establish trust by facilitating privacy and open communication to obtain each child’s perspective (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Rationale: Children of parents with substance abuse often have distrust toward adults. Learning to trust a caring adult can lower anxiety and shame so they can be educated more effectively (Usher,, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Possible Outcomes • The Gallagher children will participate in open dialogue and form a trusting relationship with the nurse. • Each child feels adequately heard and voices at least one personal family-related fear or concern. • Fiona’s anxiety toward adult professionals is lowered and is now willing to engage in education on how to promote her families safety and development.
Intervention 3 Integrate pediatric psychological professional into the children’s care team to assist in skill-building activities (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Rationale: Children of alcoholics and other drug-dependent parents are at greater risk for many behavioral and emotional problems (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Empowering children with a variety of life skills help them with coping strategies for emotionally hazardous experiences. Skill-building activities allow the child to gain positive attention from others and maintain a positive vision of life (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Skill building in the form of extracurricular activities is also suggested for children of alcoholics in order to facilitate meeting new adult role models, peers, and a way of spending more time outside the home (Usher, Mcshane, & Dwyer, 2015). Possible Outcomes • The Gallagher children learn healthy coping strategies for emotionally hazardous experiences. • Lip is able to identify safe coping strategies to handle his life stressors that can replace his chronic smoking and alcohol consumption. • Each child will have have access to counseling and support groups for emotional support and skill-building. • Carl identifies one extracurricular team he wants to join in his community.
REFERENCES Alcoholism Addiction Centers. (2016). Alcoholism addiction treatment: signs, causes, and recovery information. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism -treatment/ Kaakinen, J., Coehlo, D., Steel, R., Tabacco, A., & Hanson, S. (2015). Family health care nursing: theory, practice, and research (5th ed.). F. A. Davis: Philadelphia. Perry, S.E., Hockenberry, M.J., Lowdermilk, D.L.,&Wilson, D. (2014). Maternal Child Nursing Care (5thed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby: Elsevier. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2016). Alcohol use disorder. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use -disorders Usher, A., Mcshane, K., & Dwyer, C. (2015). A realist review of family-based interventions for children of substance abusing parents. Systematic Reviews, 4(161), Systematic Reviews, Dec 18, 2015, Vol.4(161).
IMAGE REFERENCES Image 1: Retrieved from http://p3.no/filmpolitiet/2012/10/shameless-s01/ Image 2: Retrieved from http://thetvpage.com/2013/01/24/william-h-macy-playing-drunk-aintacting/ Image 3: Retrieved from http://www.filmstarts.de/serien/7634/bilder/detail/?cmediafile=21178064 Image 4: Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/361132463842535268/ Image 5: Retrieved from https://tornadomovies.to/character/ian-gallagher-kLT7L7yOn6 Image 6: Retrieved from http://coolspotters.com/characters/debbie-gallagher Image 7: Retrieved from https://threechinguz.wordpress.com/tag/shameless-us/ Image 8: Retrieved from https://www.vozpopuli.com/marabilias/tv/series-shameless-estados_unidos -Emmy_Rossum_0_722027792.html Image 9: Retrieved from https://educ3040webpublishing.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/tumblr_ m9zrsz6fct1qgxyw6o1_400.jpg Image 10: Retrieved from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/faq/am-i-an-alcoholic -casual-drinking-alcoholism/#gref